Shocking Research: More People Are Bitten By New Yorkers Each Year Than Sharks

Written by Jude Speegle
Published: September 16, 2022
© iStock.com/ELizabethHoffmann
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Not sure what was going on in 1981, but research shows that singular bites from various animals occurred that year, including a parakeet bite, a lion bite, and a sea lion bite. These small one-offs of strange creatures biting humans add up to more than the 12 shark bites recorded that year. There were more lab rat bites in 1981 than there were shark bites. 

Are Sharks Really That Scary?

Great White Above Water
Sharks are not that scary when it comes down to it.

©NNER/Shutterstock.com

Going to the ocean can be a frightening endeavor for some people, especially if you don’t often go. The rolling waves and endless horizon can stir your stomach, especially if you’ve seen Jaws and know what goes on in the deep.

But just because sharks make their home in the ocean doesn’t mean they’ll try and bite off your precious toes. In fact, sharks often swim in the same shallow waters as you, and they avoid people if they can. When shark bites happen, they were most likely taking a little taste because they thought you were a different type of animal.

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The media has done a disservice to sharks in general through how they have been portrayed in movies and television. They’re always seen as bloodthirsty and hotheaded, but sharks are actually much more gentle than expected. Sharks do have a tendency to go crazy when feeding, but otherwise, they are fairly chill creatures.

A shark takes a little nibble of a leg and goes, “No thank you.” Of course, there are instances of sharks doing great harm to people, and we are not attempting to belittle that, just show that shark attacks are not as common as the media has told us all these years.

Shark attacks are one of the least likely causes of death, especially regarding the website linked above. Research is compiled to show other animal bites or causes of death compared to shark bites or fatalities.

Human Bites Far Outweigh Shark Bites

A diver swimming with a Shortfin mako shark. These sharks are aggressive predators and should be avoided if possible.
Humans biting other humans happens way more often than sharks biting humans.

©wildestanimal/Shutterstock.com

The high point of studying this research is that it shows more people are bitten specifically by New Yorkers each year than sharks.

Human Bites HumanShark Bites Human
1984– 1,5891984– 14
1985– 1,5911985– 12
1986– 1,5721986– 6
1987-1,5871987– 13

 In 1987, there were only thirteen instances of sharks biting humans, whereas there were 1,587 accounts of humans biting humans. There isn’t a listed reason as to why any of these people bit other human beings, so one can only wonder.

This shows that you are more likely to be bit by a person in New York City than a shark when considering the whole country. Shark attacks are much less likely than we were taught to believe, and the data supports this.

How Often Are There Fatal Shark Bites in the United States?

Dusky shark
Fatalities are low when it comes to shark attacks in the United States.

©Rich Carey/Shutterstock.com

The data also shows that out of the shark bites of the last four years, there have only been five fatalities, or deaths, from shark bites.

Shark BitesShark Bite Fatalities
2018- 322018- 1
2019- 412019- 0
2020- 332020- 3
2021- 472021- 1

Florida has had 0 shark bite fatalities since 2012, which is surprising because Volusia County, FL, is touted as the world’s shark bite capital. There’s another fact about Florida; it’s also the lightning strike capital of the world. Let’s compare lightning strikes to shark bites!

Lightning Strikes VS Shark Bites

Lightning strikes prove to be more fatal more often than shark bites.

©iStock.com/solarseven

When it comes to bolts of lightning zooming from the sky and hitting the earth, or people, Florida really takes the cake. From 1959 to 2010, there have been 459 fatalities from lightning strikes and nine from shark bites.

Lightning Strike FatalitiesShark Bite Fatalities
4599

What this proves is that stray lightning bolts are more dangerous than the sharks that prowl the oceans around Florida. Lightning is a higher threat than sharks, and this trend is similar throughout the rest of the world as well.

Woman escape shark
Trends in unprovoked shark attacks have increased over the last 100 years.

©Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock.com

The shark attack trends by decade do show an alarming increase in shark attacks over the last 100+ years. 1900-1909 showed just 39 known attacks worldwide, while 2010-2019 offers a whopping 803.

What this means most likely is that, first off, reporting was likely not as standard as it is today. Secondly, the world’s population has gone up significantly, so of course, more people would be swimming in the ocean, causing more shark bites.

Still, the level of shark bites isn’t comparable with so many other recorded instances. A few that took place in New York City include:

  • In 1981 there were 37 rabbit bites vs 12 shark bites.
  • In 1981 there were 52 hamster bites vs 12 shark bites.
  • In 1985 there were 879 cat bites vs 12 shark bites.
  • In 1985 there were 12 gerbil bites vs 12 shark bites.
  • In 1986 there were 1,572 human bites vs 6 shark bites.
  • In 1986 there were 8,870 dog bites vs 6 shark bites.
  • In 1987 there were 96 squirrel bites vs 13 shark bites.
  • In 1987 there were 291 wild rat bites vs 13 shark bites.

So now we know the stats of New York City compared to shark bites, and it tells us a lot. There is more out there looking to bit a human, including another human, than a shark. Don’t get caught up in the anxiety and fear that surrounds sharks as a whole. Instead, take a deep breath and know that you are as safe as you can be in the big wide ocean.

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The Featured Image

Great white shark
© iStock.com/ELizabethHoffmann

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About the Author

Jude is a writer both by trade and by heart. They have been writing since a very young age and have eight years of professional writing experience. Passionate about animals, Jude has three birds and three cats.

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