Earth Science News  





. World Shark Attacks Rise Slightly But Continue Long-Term Dip

The rate of attacks has actually declined over the years as human population has increased.
by Staff Writers
Gainesville FL (SPX) Feb 15, 2007
Shark attacks edged up slightly in 2006 but continued an overall long-term decline as overfishing and more cautious swimmers helped take a bite out of the aggressive encounters, new University of Florida research finds. The total number of shark attacks worldwide increased from 61 in 2005 to 62 in 2006 and the number of fatalities remained stable at four, far below the 79 attacks and 11 fatalities recorded in 2000, said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File housed at UF's Florida Museum of Natural History.

"This was a nice dull year and we love dull years because it means there are fewer serious attacks and fewer victims," Burgess said. "It's really quite remarkable when you have only four people a year die in the mouth of a shark and puts in perspective how small shark attack is as a phenomenon."

Fewer sharks are swarming near the shore where humans swim as larger numbers of shark and other fish of prey are killed each year, Burgess said. At the same time, many Third World countries are making strides in improving medical care and beach safety, while many people are getting smarter about where and when to get into the water, he said.

"They're starting to see that when they enter the sea, they're engaging in a wilderness experience as opposed to entering the equivalent of a backyard pool," he said.

As a result, the rate of attacks has actually declined over the years as human population has increased, he said.

The number of attacks in the United States, the world's leader, dipped slightly from 40 in 2005 to 38 in 2006; well below the 53 recorded in 2000, he said.

As in past years, Florida was the world's shark capital, with 23 attacks, Burgess said. This was slightly higher than the 19 cases reported in 2005 but considerably lower than the annual average of 33 between 2000 and 2003, he said.

Elsewhere in the world, Burgess tracked seven attacks in Australia, four in South Africa, three in Brazil, two in the Bahamas and one each in Fiji, Guam, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, La Reunion, Spain and Tonga.

The four fatalities were in Australia, Brazil, La Reunion and Tonga. The Australian victim was a woman swimming with her dog, and the attack may have been provoked by fishermen throwing bloodied fish in the ocean as they cleaned their catch. The Brazilian fatality was a male surfer in waters off the northeastern part of the country. The Tonga case involved a 24-year-old female swimmer who was an American Peace Corps volunteer. The attack off the Indian Ocean island of Reunion was on a 34-year-old male surfing in an area where swimming and other recreational activities are forbidden.

With globalization, not all people are taking precautions as they venture into remote corners of the world that once were sleepy villages with strictly native populations, he said.

"Some of these tourists bring their aquatic recreation to places known to be sharky without asking the natives about good and bad places," Burgess said. "The natives may know that you don't go into the water off a certain point because that's where the big tiger shark is, and the French tourist who decides to go sailboarding there gets grabbed by the tiger shark."

Surfers and windsurfers were the most frequent victims in 2006, accounting for 26 of the shark attacks, followed by swimmers and waders, 21, and divers and snorkelers, five.

Besides Florida's 23 attacks, elsewhere in the United States attacks numbered four in South Carolina; three each in Hawaii and Oregon; two in California; and one each in New Jersey, North Carolina and Texas.

"Within Florida, Volusia County and particularly New Smyrna Beach is the hot spot," he said. "This area on a square mile basis has more attacks than anyplace else in the world."

A nearby inlet draws many swimmers, surfers and sharks, which find all the splashing, kicking and other movements humans make in the water highly provocative, Burgess said.

Shark attacks in Volusia County increased from nine in 2005 to 12 in 2006. Numbers of attacks recorded in other Florida counties were three in Brevard, two each in Manatee and St. Lucie and one each in Collier, Monroe, Indian River and Palm Beach.

"Even though there are a large number of attacks in Volusia County and along the entire east coast of Florida, the injuries are seldom very serious and fatalities are highly unusual," he said.

Email This Article

Related Links
University of Florida
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com

The Chimpanzee Stone Age
Munich, Germany (SPX) Feb 15, 2007
Researchers have found evidence that chimpanzees from West Africa were cracking nuts with stone tools before the advent of agriculture, thousands of years ago. The result suggests chimpanzees developed this behaviour on their own, or even that stone tool use was a trait inherited from our common ancestor. Julio Mercader, Christophe Boesch and colleagues found the stones at the Noulo site in Côte d'Ivoire, the only known prehistoric chimpanzee settlement.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • Chicago Exchange To Launch Hurricane Futures
  • Indonesia To Relocate Key Railway Threatened By Mud Volcano
  • Ireland Examines Tsunami Early Warning System
  • Health Problems Hit Indonesia Flood Victims

  • In Chilly Washington Global Warming Gets New Airing
  • Blair Wants New Climate Change Deal Before Exit
  • US Offered Lucrative Lure Of Global Carbon Trading
  • Scientists To Focus On Climate Change And Energy At AAAS Meeting

  • Gascom To Launch 4 Smotr Low-Orbit Remote Sensing Satellites
  • GeoEye Makes Final Debt Payment For The Purchase Of Space Imaging
  • Google Earth To Blur Key India Sites
  • Brazilian Satellite Undergoes Environmental Tests

  • Brazil Sees Ethanol Output Replacing 10 Pecent World Gasoline Demand
  • No Cheers In Carbon Market As Kyoto Protocol Heads For Second Birthday
  • SRI Consulting Releases Global Reports On Renewable Energy Materials
  • Entegris Introduces Parallel Plate and Aeronex Hydrogen H2 Purification Line

  • Large-Scale Trial Of HIV Vaccine Launched In South Africa
  • AIDS Vaccine Closer But Remains Elusive
  • Global Vaccine Market To Top 23 Billion Dollars
  • US Overdue For Bird Flu Experts Warn

  • World Shark Attacks Rise Slightly But Continue Long-Term Dip
  • The Chimpanzee Stone Age
  • Illegal Wildlife Trade In China Undiminished By Bans And Health Threats
  • Researchers Publish First Working Model That Explains How Biological Clocks Work

  • Sand Latest Irritant In Singapore Regional Ties
  • Ivory Coast Toxic Dump Victims Upset Over Pay Deal
  • EasyJet Chief Says Business Travellers Have Role In Saving Environment
  • Britain Launches Investigation Into Monsanto Toxic Waste

  • Human Ecological Footprint In 2015 And Amazonia Revealed
  • Risk Of Extinction Accelerated Due To Interacting Human Threats
  • Carnegie Mellon Student Develops Mood-Sharing Gadget To Help Computer Users Express Their Feelings
  • Selectivity Is Ultimate Aphrodisiac

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement