TIME has a great story up by John Cloud called Shark Frenzy in Solana Beach. It has some great quotes:
The media was fascinated because shark attacks are sickeningly grisly and cosmically rare. Your chances of being killed by a shark in any given year are about 1 in 280 million, according to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Your chances of dying in a car accident are about 1 in 6,700. In other words, you would have to swim in the ocean 41,000 times a year (or 112 times a day, or seven times every waking hour) before swimming in shark habitats became as dangerous as driving your car a single time…
That’s one reason local officials’ response to Martin’s death was so transparently silly. For 72 hours, they banned ocean swimming along a 13-mile swath from South Carlsbad State Beach to Torrey Pines State Beach. That’s like a ban on leaving your home after a thunderstorm. Actually, statistically speaking the latter ban would make more sense: Your chances of dying after being struck by lightning are 1 in 3 million, about 93 times more likely than dying after an altercation with a shark.
He also brings up an interesting point – this may influence the Children’s Pool debate in La Jolla. Some may argue that having a beach full of plump seal treats near public beaches is tempting fate. I think that statistical chance is still so remote that it doesn’t play into the debate. But who knows, people can be emotional, facts can be sensationalized. I think the family handled the press pretty well:
…a reporter asked whether the family would stop swimming in the ocean, and Jeff Martin said quickly: “No.”
“Can you elaborate on that?” the reporter asked.
“I went surfing yesterday. Does that help?” Martin said, a bit sharply. “I’m taking my boys out tomorrow.”