Shark attacks are very, very rare. We can all thank Steven Spielberg’s Jaws back in 1975 for creating a perpetual state of fear over shark attacks, but the reality is on average there are only 6 fatal shark attacks worldwide each year. The world population is roughly 7.5 billion.
In the United States, there is ~1 deadly shark attack per year, on average with a total U.S. population of 326 million. Sure, the numbers are blurred because not every American goes swimming in the ocean each year but that point is further obfuscated by the millions and millions of tourists (foreign and domestic) that hit U.S. beaches each year. The fact remains that shark attacks are exceedingly rare, and nothing that should ever prohibit you from taking a swim.
Now, would I hop in the water in the middle of a black tip reef shark feeding frenzy? No. Would I go swimming in Boca Grande Pass during Tarpon fishing season fish tens of thousands of hammerhead sharks in the area? Probably not. Would I go out of my way to surf deep water surf breaks in California after a spurt of recent Great White Shark sightings? No, I’m not interested in coming face to face with a Great White unless I’m behind the protection of a shark cage.
Just because shark attacks are EXTREMELY RARE that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least be smart when swimming. The times of highest shark activity near the surf are dusk and dawn, so that’s when you should be most watchful. If you see fish in the area jumping out of the water and appear as if a larger predator is chasing after them you might want to head to the beach. Don’t stoke the fire.