2019 Shark Attack Betting Odds

by James Murphy in Trending News  / May 28, 2019

  • People have been fascinated by–and terrified of–sharks for centuries.
  • Unprovoked shark attacks are rare, fatal attacks even more so.
  • 2018 saw a decline in shark attacks worldwide yet mainstream media hysteria continues.

During the past decade, one of the most enduring signs that Summer is approaching is the dubious phenomenon of mainstream media shark hysteria. What happens is that someone, somewhere near a beach sees a shark and people lose their minds. The current epicenter of shark attack insanity is Cape Cod. You see, ‘The Cape’ saw a whopping *two* shark attacks last year including one fatality. While anyone with the slightest understanding of math realizes that this is statistically insignificant, some locals have reacted as if the beaches are under siege. Making matters worse, the mainstream media fans these flames of lunacy:

Shark Attacks Overshadow Cape Cod Tourist Season
Cape Cod Communities Taking Action to Prevent Deadly Shark Attacks
Cape Cod Surfers Train to Become Shark Attack First Responders
Shark Fever has Arrived on Cape Cod
As Summer Begins, Specter of Shark Attacks Looms Over Cape Cod
After Shark Attacks, is Cape Cod Ready For Tourist Season?
Why Shark Attacks Could Rise Around the World

So on and so forth. Despite the fact that the International Shark Attack File–one of the more comprehensive data sources on the topic–reports that Massachusetts has had 6 unprovoked shark attacks since 1837 the tone of the local media is that a beach blanket bloodbath is likely for the state. All the more amazing–the hysterical media reports often cite the International Shark Attack File but seldom bother to read such topics as ‘Shark Attacks in Perspective’:

“Many more people are injured and killed on land while driving to and from the beach than by sharks in the water. Shark attack trauma is also less common than such beach-related injuries as spinal damage, dehydration, jellyfish and stingray stings and sunburn. Indeed, many more sutures are expended on sea shell lacerations of the feet than on shark bites!”

For some reason I don’t recall seeing much hysteria over sea shell lacerations. While there have been a few media reports that put the true risk of shark attack into perspective–this one at Forbes is particularly good–they’re few and far between.

A RECENT HISTORY OF SHARK ATTACK HYSTERIA

In 2017, the mainstream media was all in a lather over shark attacks. The narrative was that there had been an ‘unprecedented’ number of shark attacks in the United States and worldwide. Despite not actually having any expertise in the subject they breathlessly speculated that 2017 would certainly go down in history as the year with the most shark attack and no doubt any number of people would die.

When the chum cleared, 2017 ended up being a decidedly average year for shark induced carnage. Lindsay French is the database manager for the Florida Museum of Natural History–they maintain the ‘International Shark Attack File’–and according to him 2017 was a downright average year for shark attacks:

“It really was just an average year, and significantly, the U.S. saw no shark attack fatalities for the second consecutive year. While we don’t put too much emphasis on year-to-year changes, a slight increase is expected as beach tourism and water sports gain in popularity. And as has been the case for years, Florida saw more attacks (31) than any other state while Volusia County led the state in reported attacks with nine, 29 percent of Florida’s total.”

2018 was a terrible year for shark attack hysteria as there were only 66 confirmed unprovoked cases worldwide. The five year average (2013-2017) was 84 incidents annually. Five fatal attacks occurred in 2018, in line with the annual global average of six fatalities per year. Here’s another bit that the mainstream media fanning the flames of shark attack hysteria must have missed (emphasis added):

“The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) does not assign significance to short-term trends, as annual fluctuations in shark-human interactions are to be expected. Year-to-year variability in oceanographic, socio-economic and meteorological conditions significantly influences the local abundance of sharks and humans in the water and, therefore, the odds of encountering one another.”

THE RISK OF SHARK ATTACKS IN 2019

Relatively speaking, being killed by a shark is significantly more likely than being killed by a foreign terrorist. Not that this is particularly meaningful. For all US citizens, the odds of being killed by a shark is around 1 in 7 million. If you live within 100 miles of the coast, it’s a ‘whopping’ 1 in 3.7 million. Here’s a list of the odds of dying of specific causes throughout an individual’s lifetime:

Odds of being killed

by the flu1 in 70
in a car accident1 in 111
by accidental gunshot1 in 8,359
by sun/heat exposure1 in 13,729
by a tornado1 in 60,000
by a bee sting1 in 79,842
by an earthquake1 in 110,000
by drowning in your bathtub1 in 840,000
by a flesh eating bacteria1 in 1 million
by an asteroid1 in 1.9 million
by a shark attack1 in 3.7 million
by a foreign born terrorist in the US illegally1 in 46.1 million

It is downright bizarre that humans are still afraid of shark attacks. At one point in the evolutionary process it made at least a little bit of sense. When humans were forced to endure long journeys by sea to get anywhere worth going they faced danger from not only sharks but countless other natural forces including weather and the ocean itself. Early shark attacks were likely no more prevalent than they were today (in fact, there’s a good case to be made that they were less common) but were often conflated with mythical creatures such as ‘sea serpents’. If someone disappeared at sea human nature wanted an explanation and with none forthcoming these hapless souls turned toward their own mythical creations.

Fast forward to 2019 and the fact that anyone is seriously worried about shark attacks is borderline comical. A random American citizen has a statistically insignificant chance of being involved in a fatal shark attack. Living on or near the coasts makes it somewhat more likely but still statistically insignificant as we’ll discuss in a moment. It would be nice to affirm that humanity has evolved beyond this type of behavior but they haven’t as witnessed by the prevalence of Americans to swallow the propaganda about the virtually non-existent risk off harm by foreign terrorists hook, line and sinker. Compared the 1 in 46.1 million chance of being the victim of a fatal attack by a foreign terrorist being afraid of sharks looks logical by comparison.

BASELESS FEAR IS NOTHING NEW

Overreacting to non-existent danger has been used by government and religion to subjugate humanity for centuries. Not that they’ve had a hard time doing it–humanity has a ‘bug in the system’ with their genetic wiring that makes them fearful over highly unlikely outcomes such as severe weather, air travel or even an asteroid crashing into earth. One of the oldest and most enduring of all irrational fears is the fear of sharks. It’s unclear at what point humans became terrified of an animal that most will never even see. It dates back centuries–as long as humanity has been circumnavigating the globe via ocean travel. At one point, the fear of sharks was symbiotically connected to a fear of sea monsters and other superstitions that people used to try and force order on a pre-scientific world. It’s the same phenomenon that resulted in hurricanes being mythologized–being afraid of monsters and storms makes more sense to the human brain than just accepting the fact that the universe is an exceedingly chaotic and random place.

The fear of the irrational starts to get really strange as we move into the 19th, 20th and now the 21st Century. Humanity has a profound understanding of most of the questions that bedeviled the world several centuries ago. People should know that flying is significantly safer than traveling by car yet millions still suffer from ‘fear of flying’. The explanation for everything is just a click away and available to all intellectual levels yet the mainstream media has made a cottage industry of selling the concept that there is more danger–and more unexplained danger–than at any point in history.

There are certain demographics that do need to mindful of sharks and their risks. These people are salt water recreation enthusiasts, more specifically surfers. 58% of all reported shark attacks have ‘surfing’ listed as the ocean activity in question. If you’re a surfer you should be mindful of sharks in the same way that backcountry snowboarders understand avalanches and avalanche safety. In these cases, of course, we’re not talking about a hysterical and irrational fear–it’s a legitimate concern that participants in these sports need to be aware of.

SHARK ATTACKS 2019 PROPOSITION BETTING ODDS

TOTAL NUMBER OF REPORTED UNPROVOKED SHARK ATTACKS WORLDWIDE IN 2019?

Over 83.5                                             -150
Under 83.5 +130

WILL THE NUMBER OF REPORTED SHARK ATTACKS WORLDWIDE IN 2019 BREAK THE ALL TIME YEARLY RECORD OF 98 REPORTED IN 2015?

Yes                                                   +600
No                                                    -750

PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL SHARK ATTACKS EXPERIENCED BY SURFERS IN 2019?

Over 53.5%                                            -150
Under 53.5% +130

Activity in the Global Shark Attack File incident log must specifically indicate ‘surfing’. Any other water borne activity will not be included in total.

US STATE WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF REPORTED UNPROVOKED SHARK ATTACKS IN 2019?

Florida                                               -300
Hawaii +500
California +750
South Carolina +1000
North Carolina +1700
Texas +2750
Oregon +3500
New Jersey +3500
Georgia +5000
New York +5000
Alabama +5000
Massachusetts +10000
Any Other State +25000

US COUNTY WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF REPORTED UNPROVOKED SHARK ATTACKS IN 2019

Volusia County, Florida (Daytona area)                -200
Brevard County, Florida (Cocoa Beach area) +350
Maui County, Hawaii +500
Palm Beach County, Florida +1000
Charleston County, South Carolina +1750
Honolulu County, Hawaii +2100
Horry County, South Carolina (Myrtle Beach) +3500
New Hanover County, North Carolina (Wilmington) +3500
St. Johns County, Florida (St. Augustine Beach) +5000
Barnstable County, Massachusetts (Cape Cod) +10000

NUMBER OF UNPROVOKED SHARK ATTACKS REPORTED IN FLORIDA IN 2019?

Over 21.5                                             +130
Under 21.5                                            -150

NUMBER OF UNPROVOKED SHARK ATTACKS REPORTED IN AUSTRALIA IN 2019

Over 17.5                                             -150
Under 17.5                                            +130

AUSTRALIAN STATE/TERRITORY WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF REPORTED UNPROVOKED SHARK ATTACKS IN 2019?

New South Wales                                       +125
Western Australia +200
Queensland +250
Victoria +750
South Australia +2500
Northern Territory +2500

2019 SURF SPOT SHARK ATTACKS HEAD TO HEAD MATCHUPS

WHICH WILL BE HIGHER IN 2019?

Shark attacks at Cocoa Beach, Florida                 -180
Shark attacks at Hanaleai Bay, Hawaii                +150

WHICH WILL BE HIGHER IN 2019?

Shark attacks at Bells Beach, Australia               -150
Shark attacks at Huntington Beach, California        +130

WHICH WILL BE HIGHER IN 2019?

Shark attacks at Glenelg Beach, Australia             +180
Shark attacks at San Onofre State Beach, California  -210

WHICH WILL BE HIGHER IN 2019?

Shark attacks at Crescent Head, Australia             -180
Shark attacks at Haleiwa, Hawaii        +150

WHICH WILL BE HIGHER IN 2019?

Shark attacks at Scripps La Jolla, California         +300
Shark attacks at Jacksonville Beach, Florida   -350

WHICH WILL BE HIGHER IN 2019?

Shark attacks at Mavericks, California                -130
Shark attacks at Gold Coast, Australia  +110

WHICH WILL BE HIGHER IN 2019?

Shark attacks at Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa          -180
Shark attacks at Playa Brava, Ecuador                 +150

WHICH WILL BE HIGHER IN 2019?

Shark attacks at Rincon, Puerto Rico                  -180
Shark attacks at Hanaleai Bay, Hawaii                 +150

WHICH WILL BE HIGHER IN 2019?

Shark attacks at Bondi Beach, Australia               -250
Shark attacks at Teahupo'o, Tahiti                 +210

All proposition wagers will be graded based on unprovoked shark attacks only using data from the Shark Research Institute

James Murphy

James Murphy is a preeminent authority on the international gambling industry and has made frequent appearances in the mainstream media including the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Forbes, Entertainment Weekly, CNBC and NPR. He has previously worked as a radio and podcasting host where he broadcast to an international audience that depended on his expertise and advice. Murphy also serves as an odds making consultant for sports and ‘non-sport novelty bets’ covering the entertainment industry, politics, technology, financial markets and just about everything else.

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