Australian scientists have found that men are almost nine times more likely than women to be killed in an unprovoked shark attack. Researchers at Bond University, in Queensland, Australia, analyzed worldwide statistics on shark bites from 1982 to 2011. Their findings were published in the journal Coastal Management.
According to the study, men make up 84 percent of all unprovoked attacks and 89 percent of fatalities. The researchers told news outlets they were so surprised by the numbers that they had to double-check them.
Associate professor Daryl McPhee, the lead author of the study report, told the Telegraph that the discrepancy could have to do with the degree to which men and women are physically in shark territory. “Potentially, men spend more time in the water and are more risk-prone,” he said.
Similar reasons could explain the study’s ranking of countries with the most shark-bite fatalities. Australia tops the list with 32 deaths, perhaps because Australians have “an obvious love and affinity with the water,” McPhee suggests. It could also have to do with the large and often aggressive bull, tiger, and white sharks found in Australian waters.
Still, McPhee stressed to ABC Gold Coast that the likelihood of being attacked by a shark remains very low, as long as you’re not spending time in the water near obvious shark food, like a dead whale. Said McPhee, “If you’re going to swim with the bait, you’re going to become bait.”