Shark attack survivor, researcher debunk common shark myths

Man-eating monsters or smart survivalists. When it comes to sharks, everyone has an opinion.

The animal gets a lot of attention, especially when it attacks a human, but experts say, the animal isn’t on the hunt for human flesh.

"That is the worst call for a mom to get," said Victoria Pospisil who’s son recently survived a shark attack.

The mom used to surf herself and will never forget the day her son, Chris, was bitten by a shark while surfing in New Smyrna Beach in July.

"I’m usually a very rational person. I was crying. I was screaming," she added.

After surgery, Chris is recovering at home and doesn’t harbor hate towards the animal.

"There’s good days and there’s bad days," said Chris Pospisil.

The 21-year-old saw his own foot in the shark's mouth but does not believe the animal was out to get him.

"I don’t fear them. I definitely respect them, but I don’t fear them," he added. "You know, this kind of thing comes with the territory. They’re always going to be out there."

Sharks are so common here in central Florida, every time you’re in the water, experts say you’re no more than 100 yards away from a shark. Still, attacks are very rare.

"You’re more likely to be killed by a Christmas tree than a shark," said Toby S. Daly-Engel who’s an assistant professor in the Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences Department at Florida Tech.

Shark Myth Number 1: Deadly shark attacks are common

In reality, the chances of being attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3.75 million, according to the International Wildlife Museum.

In fact, from 2011 to 2017, five times as many people died from taking a selfie than shark attacks.

"We are not what sharks target when we’re in the water," Daly-Engel added.

Shark Myth Number 2: Sharks are coming straight for us

Dr. Daly-Engel is a shark researcher who's on a mission to de-bunk myths about sharks. She says sharks avoid conflict and are calculated creatures.

"Oftentimes, what you see is the shark may accidentally bump into someone while they’re hunting for their own food and then they leave a little scratch and they run away," she added.

Shark Myth Number 3: Sharks can smell blood from a mile away

According to the nonprofit research organization the New England Aquarium, it all depends on the environment. The speed and direction of currents can impact the transmission of odors. At the very least though, it's safe to say sharks can detect a single drop of blood in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Chris is expected to make a full recovery and does plan to surf again.

"A lot of people see them as like nightmare fuel. Like – a lot of people are like, I’m never getting in the ocean. They’re terrible, and I think it’s a big misconception," the survivor concluded.