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says when most attacks occur, they happen in 3 to 4 feet of water. "But often, that can mean you're several hundred feet away from the beach," he notes. "Also, most attacks occur in water that is murky and not very clear.

"A greater percentage of beachgoers are injured by jellyfish, stingrays or hardhead and gafftop fishes, which have poisonous spines. They are more likely to cause harm than a shark."

He says when shark attacks occur, often they are accidental.

"Humans are not a shark's preferred food choice," he says.

"They don't regard the human shape as a prey item. Sometimes you hear reports of surfers having their boards hit by a shark, and it's probably because the board resembles the shape of a seal, which is a prime food source for sharks."

McEachran says some common sense can go a long way in avoiding contact with sharks.

"Sharks generally don't like to be around people," he adds.

"Most people are safe at the beach. To put your mind at ease, go to a beach that has lifeguards. They should be looking for possible sharks.

"Shark attacks are like airplane crashes," he notes. "The vast majority of airplane trips are safe, but when a crash occurs, it gets big headlines. If you use some good common sense in the water, you should be fine."


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