Shark attack record
Unprovoked shark atacks on humans occured 98 times worldwide last year, the most since records began 57 years ago, according to data from the International Shark Attack File. The number of attacks broke the previous record of 88 set in 2000.
People actually avoided serious injury in the majority of the attacks, but the massive fish killed six people worldwide, on par with previous years, said George Burgess, curator of the file housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.
As reported by USA Today, the majority of the attacks occurred in the U.S., which logged a record 59 incidents, with particularly high activity in Florida and the Carolinas. The previous record was 53 attacks, in 2014. Australia had 18 incidents this year and South Africa had 8.
Still, the numbers don’t mean people should panic, says Burgess. Instead, “the chances for any individual who goes in the water surviving have probably never been higher, since there are so many more of us going out than before.”
Australia recorded 18 attacks and South Africa followed with 8. The previous U.S. record of 53 was set in 2000 and matched in 2012.
Does this mean sharks are getting less shy around humans? Increasing in number? Or becoming more aggressive?
Not necessarily, according to the group that compiled the statistics.
“The numerical growth in human-shark interactions does not necessarily mean there is an increase in the rate of shark attacks,” said the report from the ISAF, which is run through the Florida Museum of Natural History. “It most likely is a function of the growing human population.”
In other words, when you have more humans — specifically, more humans who go swimming in the world’s oceans — you’ll likely have more shark attacks.
According to National Geographic, since 1900, the number of shark attacks has risen steadily. The number one reason is the high growth of human population, says Burgess. Beyond that, many more people are spending time in the water, particularly in higher risk activities like surfing or diving.