ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Governor of Colorado’s boast about the state’s low rate of shark attacks is raising some questions. Why are there reports of shark attacks in some landlocked states? How are Missouri and Illinois on this list when they are so far away from the ocean? Well, the attacks probably did not come from sharks swimming up the Mississippi River.

On Monday Gov. Jared Polis tweeted about the state’s perfect record. The Denver Post reached out to him about the odd info-graphic. His office released this statement:

“With the lowest obesity rate in the country, 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.”

So, Colorado is a great tourist destination. But, what about those shark attacks in the Midwest? The Shark Attack File has some answers.


Kathi Peters and her husband Marco were performing at the St. Louis Boat and Sports Show in 1996. There were six nurse sharks in a 9,000-gallon tank when she inadvertently put her hand in the bottom of the tank. The species are slow-moving bottom-dwellers and are, for the most part, harmless to humans. The Deseret News reports that “Nurse sharks eat from the bottom of the ocean, and to one of the sharks named Bob, the hand must have looked like a fish.” She suffered from five puncture wounds to the hand.


A story about a shark attack in Lake Michigan may have never happened. The Shark Research Institute has a report from 1955. It says that a boy from Chicago named George Lawson was swimming in the lake when he was bitten in the leg by a bull shark and saved by a man in a boat. WBEZ looked into the accuracy of this report and could not confirm it ever happened. They reached out to the victim, his rescuer, and the people reporting on the incident.