Sharks on social media shouldn’t scare you away from the beach

NEW ORLEANS -- Few things get the likes, shares, retweets and reactions on social media like a good pic of a shark near the beach.

Yep, it's that time of year, and many of us can't wait to get to our favorite spot along the gulf coast.  But almost like a land shark in a sketch from SNL, photos of sharks along the beach get inside our homes -- thanks to our phones and laptops -- and attack!

For the record, if I ever see a shark near the beach and get a photo of it, you can bet I'm posting it on social media.  So maybe I'm part of the problem.  But experts say that, whether you realize it or not, the sharks have always been there.

At the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, workers say that many of the posts and news articles that are circulated on social media are weeks, months, or even years old.  Also they add that the sharks have always been there; it's just easier for the stories to spread thanks to all the social media platforms.

Attacks are rare, and deaths are even rarer.  Most sharks are not looking for large living objects to eat.  Generally, they search for smaller fish to prey upon.

"No, no, people are definitely not shark food," the aquarium's Kristine Grzenda told WGNO.  "So there are actually very few shark attacks globally every year. I think people might think there are a lot of them or might think there are more of them right now than there used to be. But there's an average of about six deaths per year globally due to sharks. And that's fewer than bees or alligators, definitely cars, all sorts of things that we deal with every single day."

Later this summer the aquarium is going to open a new exhibit to help calm fears and educate people about sharks and rays.  In fact, people will be able to touch a shark and rays.  So stay tuned for more details on that, and don't cancel your beach vacation!

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