DAILY DIRT: You’re more likely to be killed by a cow than a shark

Porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) captive, Nova Scotia, Canada, image digitally manipulated

Daily Dirt for Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023

According to interestingfacts.com, the odds of being attacked by a shark in U.S. waters are 5 million to one … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 709 of The Daily Dirt.

1. It was 48 years ago this summer that “Jaws” was released in U.S. theaters, and going to the beach has never been the same. 

Here are the most medal-worthy quotes from that classic film:

Gold medal: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” This classic line, uttered by Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) upon his first close encounter with the shark, has become one of the most iconic quotes in movie history. “The mix of humor and understatement perfectly captures the tension and danger that the characters face in their battle against the massive predator,” notes screenod.com.

Silver medal: “Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women.” Grizzled shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) — my favorite character in the film — is at his best when he makes this memorable toast.

Bronze medal: “What are you? Some kind of half-assed astronaut?” More from fan favorite Quint, when seeing the cage that will used to search for the killer shark.

2. Ever since I saw “Jaws” way back in 1975 I have been somewhat fascinated with sharks.

Here’s a handful of the most interesting items I have come across regarding these little (yes, pun intended) dandies:

There are roughly 500 different species of sharks, and there’s quite a wide range of sizes among these creatures of the deep. The largest shark species living today is the whale shark, a gentle, plankton-eating giant that can grow to 45 feet in length and weigh up to 20 tons.

The biggest whale shark that has ever been accurately measured reached 61.7 feet. This shark species can normally be found in all of the world’s tropical waters.

The smallest-known shark species was discovered in the mid-1980s off the coast of Colombia, a dwarf lantern shark a little under 7 inches long. Dwarf lantern sharks dwell about 1,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. 

The slow-growing, Arctic-dwelling Greenland shark is not only the longest-living shark, but also holds the record for the longest-lived vertebrate on Earth. Unlike other sharks, Greenland sharks don’t have cartilage that shows their growth over time, so scientists have had difficulty estimating their age accurately. In 2016, a study in the journal Science described how a team of biologists carbon-dated eye proteins, which build up continuously during the animals’ lives, in several Greenland sharks. They found the individual sharks studied were an average of 272 years old when they died. The results also suggested that the sharks’ maximum life span could be up to 500 years.

3. Admittedly, I think we’re all scared to death of being eaten (or at least attacked) by a shark.

But you can rest easier with this news: The risk of suffering a shark attack is practically nil. 

For its 2022 global summary, the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File confirmed 57 unprovoked shark bites in 2022, meaning they happened when humans were simply in the shark’s natural habitat, and 32 provoked attacks, such as when people were feeding or harassing the fish. Forty-one of the unprovoked attacks occurred in the U.S., and one was fatal. 

Other animals are way more likely to kill you than sharks, including cows, which kill an average of 20 Americans a year, according to CDC data. 

Hornets, bees and wasps are also more life threatening than sharks. That troika of insects combines to kill about about 48 people a year. Even dogs, who kill about 19 people a year, are more life threatening than sharks. 

Steve Thought O’ The Day — That’s all well and fine, but I’m still scared of sharks.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. Hates sharks, loves fish sandwiches.

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