The International Shark Attack File is exactly what it sounds like—an annual report on how many people were attacked, where in the world and by what kind of shark. The Florida Museum of Natural History puts the file together, and bless them for doing so. Hard numbers are much better than anecdotal hunches about shark attacks.
Anyway, let’s get to the details.
First, the U.S. is far and away the worldwide leader in shark attacks, and it ain’t close. We had 53 unprovoked attacks last year (unprovoked means the shark wasn’t being cornered or bullied by a diver or something), 60 percent of the planet’s total. Which country came in second? Australia, you won’t be surprised to learn, but with only 14 attacks and 1 fatality, a number you’d think would be far higher considering recent activities near Margaret River.
Reunion Island had three attacks, but two deaths. South Africa, two non-fatal attacks. Strangely, New Zealand had the same amount of attacks—one—as Egypt.
Worldwide, there were 88 attacks and five fatalities. These numbers are right about where they should be, in terms of historical averages.
Curious about the rest of the U.S. breakdown? Well, Florida remains the champion with that state alone seeing more than double Australia’s attacks, with 31. South Carolina had the second highest number of attacks—10. Hawaii had six and California had 2.
And, the part you’re probably concerned with most—surfers had by the far the highest amount of attacks per ocean user. Some 59 percent of shark attacks last year involved somebody paddling around on a board of some kind. Swimmers and divers were far lower, at 22 percent.
Bodysurfing, oddly enough grouped with “horseplay” in the study, is down at the bottom with three percent of attacks.
“The number of human-shark interactions is directly correlated with time spent by humans in the sea,” says the report. The authors also insist that while attacks are predicted to increase because more and more people are spending time in the ocean than ever before, fatality rates have been declining for years.
Billions of people splashing around in the seas each year, only 88 attacks. Calming news.
Check out the full report, here.