National Geographic

Nat Geo WILD: What Are the Odds? Some Surprising Shark Attack Stats

Who knew toilets and air fresheners could be so dangerous? Well, at least statistically speaking it appears sharks seem to pose less of a threat than many things we encounter every day.

  • In 1996, toilets injured 43,000 Americans. Sharks injured 13.
  • You have a one in 63 chance of dying from the flu and a one in 3,700,000 chance of being killed by a shark.
  • You have a one in 218 chance of dying from a fall and a one in 3.7 million chance of being killed by a shark.
  • 1n 1996, buckets and pails injured almost 11,000 Americans.  Sharks injured 13.
  • In 1996, room fresheners injured 2,600 Americans.  Sharks injured 13.
  • The U.S. averages 19 shark attacks a year.  Lightning kills about 41 people a year in coastal states alone.
  • Since 1959, Florida has had nine shark attack fatalities.  Lightning fatalities = 459.
  • Since 1959, California has had more shark attacks (89) than lightning fatalities (30).
  • Since 1959, California has had more shark attacks (89) than lightning fatalities (30).
  • For every human killed by a shark, humans kill two million sharks.
  • Anyone who has swum in New Smyrna Beach, Florida (shark capital of the world) has likely been within 10 feet of a shark.
  • Some sharks can live for a year without eating, surviving on the oil stored in their livers.

More Shark Facts >>


  1. Austin Remington
    February 17, 9:37 pm

    I live in Miami. If I can survive all the crazy drivers, I think sharks are the least of your worries lol I swam in the ocean today and saw a bull and nerf and they didnt look twice. The roads are more deadly than the ocean.

  2. Dom Bittner
    January 11, 8:44 pm

    ‘You have a one in 218 chance of dying from a fall and a one in 3.7 million chance of being killed by a shark.’
    This is dumb. Lets face it, this is because people aren’t necessarily swimming in shark infested waters most of their life… not because falling is more deadly.

  3. James Brown
    United States
    September 12, 2013, 9:50 pm

    My guess is these stats are off. You can not compare apples (everyday items) to oranges (sharks) that many of us never encounter. If you used the number of people who swim in the ocean instead of a nations population that would be a good place. Also I am guessing those figures would go up for a frequent ocean swimmer. While the odds of flipping heads may be 50% every time the odds of flipping heads 10 times in a row is 1000 to 1. Someone who swims/surfs every day or at least a few times a week is obviously much more likely to have an unwanted interaction with a shark.

  4. Rich
    Jacksonville FL
    August 7, 2013, 12:27 am

    *300 million.

  5. Rich
    Jacksonville, FL
    August 7, 2013, 12:16 am

    I’m so tired of seeing these ridiculous statistics. Out of the 300k people in America how many go past there ankes in the water. Like they’re week vacation to the beach where they sit in a lawn chair tells us anything about sharks. I surf on a regular basis, like some old lady falling into a toilet is gonna apply to me or make me feel safer in the ocean. BS statistics.

  6. Daniel
    May 1, 2013, 2:02 am

    Bunch of BS comparisons. Everyone in this country makes multiple contacts with toilet every day. However, not everyone go into the ocean every year. Why don’t we do the odds on how many people actually go swimming in the ocean vs number of shark attacks per year. Here is a more accurate odds for shark attacks. Roughly 7 millions tourists go to Hawaii every year; roughly 12 shark attacks per year in Hawaii. Assuming every tourist go surfing or snorkeling in the ocean then the odds will be around 1 in 583,333. Realistically, less than 10% of the 7 million will actually go into the ocean, pass the knee high shallows. Do the math! with this said, I never hesitate when I go surfing or snorkeling.

  7. s13p2SabrinaH » #5 Wanna Swim?
    February 13, 2013, 12:20 pm

    [...] Here are the statistics from Nat Geo WILD: [...]

  8. [...] 1996, toilets injured 43,000 Americans, buckets and pails hurt almost 11,000 and room fresheners were responsible for 2,600 injuries in [...]

  9. [...] 1996, toilets injured 43,000 Americans, buckets and pails hurt almost 11,000 and room fresheners were responsible for 2,600 injuries in [...]

  10. [...] 1996, toilets injured 43,000 Americans, buckets and pails hurt almost 11,000 and room fresheners were responsible for 2,600 injuries in [...]

  11. Statistics
    Laguna Beach
    November 27, 2011, 12:20 am

    One thing that gets me every time you see these stupid facts is the statistics calculations are all off base. As many have pointed out already how many times the average person comes in contact with toilets everyday vs the number of times a person is in the ocean where there are sharks present. Same with the air fresher, lighting, flu, pails and buckets and falls. Come on lets think here I was expecting better from National Geographic maybe Fox or CNN..
    USA alone you are talking about 1 Billion occurrences a day with the Toilet (310Mill pop x 3 time avg per day) or 43,000 people hurt over 339,450,000,000 chance in the USA alone per year. Now based on general beach travel with people that actually go into the water over their ankle you are talking around 58,125,000 occurrences with 13 people getting injured for the year… Hum the can seems pretty safe to me still. Don’t get me wrong you are not going to get killed most likely when you go into the ocean but its not nearly as safe as the bathroom.
    Nat Geo be the first to run some real data we know Jaws ruined it for sharks but to compare apples to corn is just as bad.

  12. lana
    November 25, 2011, 9:13 am

    With only 8 percent of the people attacked being a diver or snorkeler why does this show focus on them 8 percent? What about the 92 percent attacked you are leaving out? Is this show really about the dying almost dead diving industry? So this show is only for divers, hope it flops and the likes and tweets show it is. You didn’t learn from Discovery that people don’t care about divers swimming with sharks.

  13. han foon
    November 25, 2011, 8:08 am

    More pro-shark propaganda. These people spin yarns for years on end about how lovely sharks are and they never meant to hurt nobody. Your chances of getting bit or killed by a shark is billions to one, hitting the lottery !! This is said every time they exploit and make money off these animals for their TV programs. However, everyday I hear about so and so getting bit or killed by sharks surfing or in the water scuba diving. Its getting old fast. People need to put down the glass of leaded water they are drinking and wise up. Stay out of the water. It is not your home. It’s the sharks home and hunting ground. People poo poo this everyday and are getting chomped up. Do it, and speak up to other people who are ignorant. Somebody has to speak the truth.

  14. pls
    November 24, 2011, 2:26 pm

    One in 63 chance of dying from the flu? Might want to do some fact checking.

  15. Nathan
    United States
    November 23, 2011, 2:37 pm

    Are the 1959 California statistics reversed?

  16. Rakesh
    November 23, 2011, 1:33 pm

    I love fish.

  17. al Bren
    November 23, 2011, 9:11 am

    Where in the world did you get these stats?

  18. Nidogski
    November 23, 2011, 4:14 am

    You’re completely forgetting to take into account the fact that most people encounter toilets several times a day, but encounter sharks perhaps once or twice a year at most..

    If you calculate the percentages of exposure versus injuries/attacks then it paints a very different picture..

  19. Nidogski
    November 23, 2011, 3:41 am

    What you forget to point out in your statistics is you are not comparing like for like…most people encounter toilets several times a day and hence the exposure to toilets is huge, whereas their exposure to sharks may be once or twice a year at the most (unless you’re Ryan Johnson!) and still a large number do get killed or seriously injured

    You need to reflect the percentage of exposure to the threat compared to number of exposures resulting in an attack/injury to be fair and accurate with your figures…

  20. Al
    November 23, 2011, 12:51 am

    One thing your stats did not mention was only about 60 percent of the people bitten by sharks qualify as a confirmed to be un-provoked shark attack used in your stats. Just like you say there were 13 people injured by sharks in the US in 1996. This file will show you about 50 percent of the people actually injured by sharks are used in your stats.

    Fill in 1996 for year and USA for country.

  21. felix
    November 22, 2011, 8:03 pm

    …got that