Are sharks really scary or just really misunderstood?

Posted at 5:31 PM, Aug 15, 2014

Sharks swim up and down our coast all year. But as the weather warms up and more people flock to the beach, it’s this time of the year that we often hear more about shark attacks.

“I mean, they`re all over. They`re kind of terrifying, but I think they just might be misunderstood," says Amanda Ferrell who is visiting Virginia Beach from New York.

Some would agree. In fact, experts say more people die from bee stings, lightning strikes and even falling vending machines than from a shark bite.

But as these animals make headlines and we learn more about them during Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, NewsChannel 3 wanted to know what makes this week – out of all the weeks in the year – so special about sharks.

So we went to the Virginia Aquarium to find out.

I think it was just a timing thing. People are going on vacation and they`re interested in making people aware of their environment, making people aware of wildlife and how we all fit in to it - to discover our world.

Beth Firchau, Curator of Fishes, took NewsChannel 3 behind the scenes at the shark pool at the aquarium.

She says sharks are typically afraid of people. But since we spend a lot of time in the water, we have to keep in mind that they’re around.

“We're a very active population of critters and statistically we're going to have more contact with those animals that live in the ocean,” Firchau says.

Firchau says our chances of coming in contact with a shark along our coast are low overall.

However, she says it’s best to think smart and respect our ocean friends, whether it’s during shark week or any other time of the year.