This summer, headlines have been dominated by shark attacks and close encounters.
And as Discovery Channel's Shark Week gets into full swing, one expert has shared the truth about the giant fish.
Marine conservation scientist David Shiffman said that it's likely one of the ocean beasts will be near you when you go into the sea, and you might just not know it.
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"Just because you don't see a shark doesn't mean the shark doesn't see you," Shiffman says.
"Most of the time, they leave you alone … If you go in the ocean and you see a shark and it's just minding his own business, you do not need to be worried."
Shiffman says the 1975 film Jaws is partly responsible for the creatures' bad press, which has made people far more afraid of shark attacks than they need to be – with the theme tune becoming an especially powerful tool to terrify audiences.
"John Williams figure[d] out how to make sure the audience understood that this was a terrifying, death-creating machine coming after you that you could not stop," says film music historian John Burlingame of the iconic tune.
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Rather than pounce on beach-goers, as is often portrayed in film and TV, sharks usually just bump into people in the water and sometimes don’t even physically touch them.
While injuries can happen and sharks have been known to kill people, Shiffman explained that you are more likely to die by falling off a cliff than from a shark attack.
Sharks, on the other hand, are the ones who are really in danger.
Around 100 million sharks are killed a year, with many dying from unsustainable fishing practices that either intentionally target their fins and meat or through bycatch – meaning accidentally catching a shark when you’re trying to catch another fish.
And with sharks being a crucial element of the ecosystem, keeping the food chain intact and oceans balanced, the threat to the aquatic titans poses problems to our oceans as a whole – which creates issues for humans too.
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