The sun is shining. The water’s warm. You’re swimming just off the sandbar, enjoying a perfect beach day, when suddenly something large and rough brushes up against your leg. You tense up, gripped with fear, preparing for some apex predator to chomp you in half.
It’s probably just a bluefish, maybe a harmless skate, or possibly a piece of wood … unless you’re in Florida. Then you’re probably eaten already.
Morbid jokes aside (although the Sunshine State is home to the highest shark-attack statistics), you’ve got better chances of being killed by a deer than bitten by a shark. And even if you get some toothy love, most attacks aren’t fatal.
That’s comforting, isn’t it?
Well, if you’re a fan of technology, now there’s an app that actually may give you some peace of mind. It’s called Sharkbytes and it claims to keep you (statistically speaking) safer from shark attacks.
Sharkbytes lets you search for shark incidents worldwide. It’s a GPS-based app, so it basically gives you a detailed account of the latest shark incidents at your beach, including the date, location, activity, victim’s name, age and gender, a description of the injury, the determined species and even the source of the investigator.
“A lot of people are scared to know. But once they use the app, it makes them feel better when they see how few incidents there have been,” Eric Knox, developer of Sharkbytes, told GrindTV. “The data goes back a hundred years. When you consider that millions of people have been in the water, there have only been a couple of incidents.”
If you allow push notifications, you can be alerted to a shark incident if one is to occur. In many cases, attacks are not isolated. Incidents are grouped together, like the three surfers who were all scraped in a matter of a few hours in New Smyrna, Florida, last September, or the two kids who were both attacked within 90 minutes off Oak Island, North Carolina, in 2015. Sharkbyte even has a portal to report shark activity.
The app doesn’t even use the word “attack,” so as not to fuel shark fear frenzy. But while actual shark encounters are clearly serious matters, the overhyped notion of shark danger is detrimental to certain coastal areas, many of which are seasonal. The last thing a beach town wants is folks fearing a Jaws that isn’t really there.
“One town in North Carolina actually embraced [the app] because they hadn’t had an incident in a very long time,” Knox added.
Sharkbytes has some additional educational value, with shark identification tips and a blog loaded with information on saving sharks. The app is free, with a “no ads” version for 99 cents, available at Google Play, Apple App Store and Amazon.