Most species of shark are actually completely non-aggressive... a few are even primarily vegetarian. Very few species pose any threat to humans. Some, such as Reef Sharks, are actually known to play with humans. Others, such as Whale Sharks (which are huge and could swallow a person whole if they chose to do so), have even been known to let people ride them.
The majority of the sharks in the San Francisco Bay in particular are bottom-feeders... notably Leopard Sharks, Piked Dogfish, Soupfin sharks, Cowsharks, and a few others, all of whom are completely non-aggressive and generally far below swimmers, anyway. So yeah, they're completely harmless... even if you saw one, they'd likely be scared and try to get away.
However, there is one "dangerous" species of shark in the Bay, though FAR more rare: The Great White. However, their danger is really over-sensationalised. On average, there are about 100 shark attacks every year IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, most of which Great Whites are responsible for. However, humans aren't part of their regular diet, and they seem to know this, hence the "they don't like the taste of us" myth. It's simply that we don't have enough tissue, which they realise upon first bite... so most attacks are just one bite then the shark leaves. Also, they tend to use their mouths to figure out what something is, so generally when they attack a human, it's because they think we're something else. When they actually attack, they don't initially bite... rather they ram their prey at full speed, which is rare in human attacks (hence the "attacks" are out of curiosity, and not because they consider us prey). And again, even with these counted, the number of shark attacks all around the world every year is about 100... Considering millions of people worldwide are in the ocean everyday, this is a VERY small number. In the greater Bay Area (not just the Bay, but the entire area), there are rarely more than 2 or 3 shark attacks each year... A few years the numbers gotten up to like 4 and it was considered an epidemic. In fact, last year (2007), there were only 2 shark attacks in ALL of California... and neither was fatal.
So yeah... most of the sharks in the Bay and off the coast are completely harmless, docile, gentle, and would never attack a human. And Great Whites, while they do sometimes, it's actually very rare, and there are relatively very few of them in the area, too. So most swimmers don't even worry about them, and are able to do so their entire lives without ever having an encounter.
EDIT: Oh, and it's the "San Francisco Bay", not the "Golden Gate Bay".
· 1 decade ago