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Talking Shark Week On The Couch: The Truth About Safety & Sharks

Shark Truth

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – These might be the dog days of summer, but for lots of us, this week belongs to the sharks.

The Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’ is back – just as a wave of summer 2012 shark attacks have been reported.

All of this shark hype may have you asking, is it safe to go into the water?

TV 10-55’s Carolina Bermudez, John Elliott and Lisa Kerney sat down with shark expert and filmmaker Fabien Cousteau, who said if you know what to expect and how to act, there is no reason to be afraid of sharks at the beach.

More: 5 Best Ways To Get On The Water In NYC

To stay safe, swimmers and ocean-sport enthusiasts have to think smart about where and when they chose to go into the water. Cousteau said that people should stay away from fishing or chumming areas or known shark feeding zones. He also cautions against swimming at dusk and dawn.

But on the whole, Cousteau said fear of sharks is generally unfounded.

“Sharks are there, have been there, fo r hundreds of millions of years as a garbage cleaner of the oceans,” he said. “It’s really not something we should worry about. You should be more likely, five times over, to win the lottery than to be bitten by a shark.”

As for increased number of shark sightings in areas that are traditionally shark-free? Cousteau says four things are to blame.

“First of all, we are getting much better because everyone’s got a camera now,” Costeau explained. “Their predatory behaviors may have changed because of shifting patterns of weather. And, of course, some of their food sources are disappearing because we are fishing everything out.”

Also, the return of seals to the eastern seaboard through extensive conservation efforts hase caused an increase in population of shark’s most favorite prey. The reemergence of these marine mammals may be to blame for increased shoreline sightings in areas such as Cape Cod, as sharks come in close in hopes of catching a seal.

But Cousteau stresses that sharks are generally misunderstood creatures with a reputation for destruction largely created by the human imagination and fed by Hollywood.

“There are less than 12 real shark incidents per year worldwide!” he said.

How do you feel about sharks in the water? Have a shark story of your own? Share your comments below…