February 9, 2011

US Leads World In Shark Attacks

The United States, as it has in the past, led the world in incidents of unprovoked shark attacks in 2010, according to researchers from Florida.

In all, there were a record 79 attacks around the world in 2010, the highest that number has been in any year over the past ten years, the researchers said.

The US led with 36 shark attack incidents, followed by Australia with 14 and South Africa with 8 attacks. Vietnam and Egypt were next with six attacks each.

The report -- The International Shark Attack File -- was put together by experts at the University of Florida. While the US led the list, an unusual occurrence happened in Egypt with five shark attacks within 5 days in early December, one being fatal. Four of the attacks were associated with two individual sharks.

"The growth in shark attack numbers does not necessarily mean that there is an increase in the rate of shark attack, rather it most likely is reflective of the ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the odds of interaction between the two affected parties," the report said.

The number of incidents in 2010 was an increase of 25 percent from the 63 reported incidents in 2009. No year has had as many shark incidents as 2010 since 2000, when there were 80 confirmed shark attacks.

In the United States, the incidences of shark attacks in Florida, the state where attacks are most common, saw a decline in 2010. In the past four years the number continued to fall. The "Sunshine" state saw 31 shark attacks in 2007; 28 in 2008; 18 in 2009; and just 13 in 2010.

"Florida had its lowest total since 2004, which was 12," lead researcher, George Burgess, told AFP. "Maybe it's a reflection of the downturn in the economy and the number of tourists coming to Florida, or the amount of money native Floridians can spend taking holidays and going to the beach."

While shark attacks are generally rare, Burgess expressed words of caution for any beach-goers.

"The reality is, going into the sea is a wilderness experience," he said. "You're visiting a foreign environment, it's not a situation where you're guaranteed success."

Along with a record number of shark attacks for the past decade, so follows the number of shark attack fatalities: six -- slightly above average for the past decade.


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