LONG BEACH, Calif. – A new study hopes to change how beachgoers perceive sharks.
In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers in Southern California used drones to observe great white sharks — and their encounters with humans.
“Despite all the statistics you hear about the probability of being bitten by a shark (approximately 1 in 3.75 million), we actually have no real statistics because we don’t know how many people go in the water,” said Dr. Chris Lowe, a professor in marine biology and director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach.
In a way, Lowe and his team are tracking humans as much as the sharks.
“By gathering this data, we can better adjust those statistics about your chances of being bitten by a shark,” Lowe said in 2019. “I expect the risk to be much lower.”
“We have a study coming out next week that was done using drones to survey and look at when white sharks and people were next to each other; we’ve actually found that the risk is very low,” Lowe told NewsNation.
He believes the study may change people’s perception of sharks and the fear many people have of them.
“(Swimmers) are around sharks all the time, they just don’t know it. And the sharks aren’t bothering people, to begin with,” said Lowe.
The dramatic nature of shark bites and the stories of survivors, such as Hawaii surfer Mike Morita’s tale of fighting off a shark in April, captures the imagination. It’s a good idea to remember just how rare shark bites truly are, scientists said.
However, if a shark does get close enough to where it looks like it may bite, Lowe recommends a “good whack of the nose.”
“(The nose) is a sensitive part of the body. And that quite often will scare a shark away,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.