So far this summer, two people have been bitten by sharks in waters off Isle of Palms beach. In April, a 66-year-old man training for a triathlon was killed by a shark in waters off Solana Beach, Calif.
The International Shark Attack File recorded 71 incidents worldwide in 2007 of unprovoked attacks on humans by the many-toothed predator.
To bring more light to this much-feared creature, the South Carolina Aquarium is celebrating Shark Week July 27 through Aug. 3 with the Discovery Channel and 24 other aquariums and zoos around the country.
While Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" may add to the shark hype as well as dispel myths, the aquarium is focusing on interesting facts, environmental issues and shark education.
"Sharks get the short end of the stick," aquarium staffer Josh Kole said. "Over 360 species of sharks, and there's only a handful that could really hurt a human."
In fact, the most recent shark-related death in South Carolina was just after the Civil War, and more people get hurt by toilet seats than sharks every year. Those are a couple of facts the aquarium presents to help dispel shark myths.
During Shark Week, visitors will get shark-related information on the aquarium floor and find staff members and volunteers ready with interesting shark facts and answers. Three daily Great Ocean Tank presentations focus on shark knowledge, with interactive games and shark "dress-up."
The aquarium is also offering behind-the-scenes tours of the Great Ocean Tank. Visitors can see where sharks are quarantined upon arrival, food preparation, and all sides of the 350,000-gallon tank, including where divers prepare and where sharks are fed. The tours are $10 for adults, $5 for children.
"Sharks are majestic," said James Southard, a volunteer diver at the aquarium, right after he pulled himself out of the Great Ocean Tank after the 3 p.m. show on Sunday.
During the show, he swam in the tank and helped with the interactive game "Fish-n-Chips: Shark Edition," feeding fish and answering audience questions.
The aquarium's Great Ocean Tank is home to fish, eels and three species of shark: nurse, sand tiger and sandbar, also known as brown. The chain dogfish shark is in a smaller tank nearby. All four species of sharks can be found in South Carolina waters.
For more information on Shark Week, visit www.scaquarium.org.