October can be a spooky month, and one thing many people fear is a shark attack. Jaws in Colorado shouldn’t frighten you because the Centennial State has the best record of shark attacks in the United States, with a total of zero.
Gov. Jared Polis shared the news of the state’s perfect record on Twitter on Monday.
“Colorado is tied for state with the least shark attacks!” Polis tweeted.
When reached for comment on Colorado’s track record on shark attacks, Conor Cahill, Polis’s press secretary, issued the following statement:
“With the lowest obesity rate in the country, Coloradans are known for being healthy and lean and sharks know they won’t get much of a meal here. Coloradans and others from across the world love exploring our mountains, rivers, lakes and plains while safely avoiding the swarms of dangerous sharks in other, less attractive destinations like Texas, California and Florida.”
The reason for Colorado’s success with sharks is obvious — it’s not near the ocean. Out of the seven states that border Colorado, none of them have a coastline. Still, New Mexico has had one shark attack. But not much information is available about sharks in the Land of Enchantment.
“It’s such a rare incident when somebody is bit by a shark, but it’s unbelievably rare when somebody dies from it,” said James Sulikowski, a professor at Arizona State University that focuses part of his work on sharks. “Cows kill more people.”
One commenter on Polis’s post noted that most Coloradans only ever encounter a shark when the Colorado Avalanche hosts the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have bitten the Avs three out of the five times the teams have met in the playoffs, killing Colorado’s seasons thrice.
As for why other landlocked states have shark attacks, some say bull sharks swim up big rivers like the Mississippi River and have had a rare encounter with a person.
“People like warm shallow water,” Sulikowski explained regarding where shark interactions happen. “In California, the water is colder. But those areas are in the sharks’ territory, where they feed.”
In general, shark attacks are unusual. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, there were 57 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks worldwide in 2020, which was lower than the most recent five-year (2015-2019) average of 80 incidents annually. Three Americans and seven others worldwide were killed by unprovoked shark bites.
“This is the thing we’re trying to get away from,” Sulikowski said. “They are shark bites, not attacks. They’re not lurking to attack; it’s a case mistaken identity.”
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