Colorado governor sparks confusion after boasting landlocked state has joint fewest shark attacks in US

·2 min read

Americans were both amused and confused after Colorado governor Jared Polis celebrated his landlocked state coming joint last for shark attacks.

Sharing a colour-coded graphic of the US on Tuesday, Mr Polis tweeted that “Colorado is tied for state with the least shark attacks!”. He also used a shark emoji.

Colorado, as one of 16 US states without access to the coast, unsurprisingly came in joint last place with 26 other states for having no shark attacks.

It was unclear where the data was sourced from.

Twitter users were confused and amused at Mr Polis’s tweet, with one person writing: “Thank you for keeping Colorado safe from shark attacks, Governor”.

Although California and Florida are well known for shark encounters, many Twitter users asked why New Mexico, another landlocked US state, had seen a shark attack. As had Illinois and Kentucky.

“Uhm, I’m kinda confused about New Mexico, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania,” a Twitter user wrote. “Where, exactly, are people being attacked by sharks in those states?”

It was reasoned that major rivers such as the Mississippi allow sharks to travel into landlocked states, where an attack could occur — although such an event is rare.

Aquariums are also thought to be responsible for attacks in landlocked states, with the Albuquerque Journal reporting in 2005 that a worker was bitten while handling a shark.

Another Twitter user argued that Coloradans only ever encounter a shark when the San Jose Sharks travel to play Colorado Avalanche, another professional ice hockey team.

Conor Cahill, a spokesperson for Mr Polis, told the Denver Post that Coloradans “are known for being healthy and lean and sharks know they won’t get much of a meal here”.

“Coloradans and others from across the world love exploring our mountains, rivers, lakes and plains while safely avoiding the swarms of dangerous sharks in other, less attractive destinations like Texas, California and Florida.”

Shark attacks in the US remain relatively uncommon, with 33 incidents in 2020, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. Overall, the risk of a fatal encounter are extremely low, it adds.

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