Shark attacks are feared by, well, generally any person with an instinct to survive. It's what makes movies like The Shallows so effective (and terrifying). For whatever reason, the idea of a shark attack is enough to send a lot of people out of the ocean and onto dry land, even if said shark attack is completely fictional. And while The Shallows isn't based on a true story — there was no girl named Nancy fighting against a great white shark for survival on an isolated beach called Paradise — that doesn't really make it, or movies like it, any less scary. And, after hearing some real-life shark attack stories, The Shallows might not actually sound all that ridiculous.
Shark attack stories tend to go viral, likely because of our pre-established fear of sharks, but it's important to remember that the odds of dying in a shark attack, or even suffering a shark attack, are low. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, people are 75 times more likely to be fatally struck by lightning than die from a shark attack. In reality, events like car accidents, bicycle accidents and household construction injuries are much more common than shark attacks. Even beachgoers are 132 times more likely to drown at the beach than be attacked by a shark. Still, shark attacks do happen, and when they do, they can be pretty terrifying. These four crazy shark attack stories will remind you of The Shallows because (spoiler alert) these real-life shark attack stories all, thankfully, have survivors.
1. Bethany Hamilton
In 2005, Hamilton was famously attacked by a tiger shark while surfing in Hawaii when she was just 13. The aspiring pro-surfer lost her left arm in the attack, but survived to tell the tale. Not only did she return to the water after the attack, she went on to surf professionally and won a national title only one year later. Her story was widely shared, and even inspired a movie, Soul Surfer. "It was like pulling me back and forth, not like pulling me underwater. Just like, you know how you eat a piece of steak?" Hamilton later described her attack in an interview with ABC News. Terrifying.
2. Achmat Hassiem
Before he was a Bronze-medal Paralympian, Hassiem was attacked by a shark in 2006 while participating in a water safety exercise with his brother off the shores of Cape Town's False Bay. He and his brother were playing injured swimmers, while other groups of lifeguards were tasked with "saving" them, when he saw a shark moving towards his sibling, who was acting unconscious. In an effort to distract the shark, Hassiem began moving violently, causing the shark to change course and head straight for him. Hassiem lost his right leg to the great white shark, but by 2008, he was a swimmer competing in the Paralympics.
"I couldn't move my leg and then I saw half of it in the shark's mouth. It started violently shaking me; it was terrifying. I could feel my leg being torn apart but there was no pain," Hassiem told the Independent .
3. James Grant
Grant was out spearfishing on New Zealand's South Island in 2014 when he was bit by a relatively small shark on his leg. Distracted, Grant barely felt a thing, and acted quickly, using his knife to stab the shark until it let go. He went back to his car to stitch up his wound using a first aid kit and then went to the local pub to get a beer before going to the hospital. "[I thought] bugger, now I have to try and get this thing off my leg," Grant told The Guardian .
4. David And Sebastian Cozzan
David and his son, Sebastian, were both bitten by sharks in the same Singer Island, Florida, area, but the attacks happened about 20 years apart. David was 19 when he was bitten by a shark, though it wasn't a big enough bite to get him straight to the hospital. Like James Grant, David first stopped to grab a drink. Years later, his nine year old son, Sebastian, was bitten by a shark in the same area. He got 80 stitches for the bite on his heel.
"It was scary. I was surfing, and then the shark just came up and bit me on the foot. It pulled me down and then I went back to the shore with my surfboard," Sebastian told Today .
How scary are those stories? Shark attacks may be rare, but hearing tales like these and seeing movies like The Shallows is bound to make anyone stay out of the water.
Images: Columbia Pictures