Navigation Links
Human deaths from shark attacks hit 20-year low last year

GAINESVILLE, Fla. Fatal shark attacks worldwide dipped to their lowest levels in two decades in 2007 with the sole casualty involving a swimmer vacationing in the South Pacific, according to the latest statistics from the University of Florida.

Except for 1987, when there were no fatalities, the last year a single human death occurred from a shark attack was in 1985, said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File housed at UFs Florida Museum of Natural History. By comparison, there were four deaths each in 2005 and 2006, and seven in 2004.

Its quite spectacular that for the hundreds of millions of people worldwide spending hundreds of millions of hours in the water in activities that are often very provocative to sharks, such as surfing, there is only one incident resulting in a fatality, he said. The danger of a shark attack stays in the forefront of our psyches because of it being drilled into our brain for the last 30 years by the popular media, movies, books and television, but in reality the chances of dying from one are infinitesimal.

Advances in medical treatment, greater attention to beach safety practices and increased public awareness about the danger of shark attacks are all likely reasons the fatality rate so far for the 21st century, at 7.6 percent, has been lower than the 12.3 percent recorded for the 1990s, Burgess said.

The number of shark attacks overall increased from 63 in 2006 to 71 in 2007, continuing a gradual upswing during the past four years, he said.

One would expect there to be more shark attacks each year than the previous year simply because there are more people entering the water, he said. For baby boomers and earlier generations, going to the beach was basically an exercise in working on your suntan where a swim often meant a quick dunking. Today people are engaged in surfing, diving, boogie boarding and other aquatic activities that put them much closer to sharks.

Occasionally, the number of attacks may drop in a particular year because of changes in meteorological or oceanographic conditions that affect water temperature and salinity, such as the frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms, Burgess said. But scientists dont put too much stock in these year-to-year fluctuations, preferring to look at long-term trends, he said.

Traditionally, about half of the worlds attacks occur in United States mainland and Hawaiian waters, but the proportion was greater in 2007, Burgess said. Last years total of 50 attacks returned to 2000 and 2001 levels of 53 and 50, respectively, after dropping from 30 to 40 for each year between 2003 and 2006, he said.

Elsewhere, there were 12 attacks in Australia, up from seven in 2006 and 10 in 2005, but down slightly from the 13 attacks recorded in 2004. There were two attacks each last year in South Africa and New Caledonia, with single incidents reported in Fiji, Ecuador, Mexico and New Zealand.

There also was an upswing in attacks along the Florida coast, jumping from 23 in 2006 to 32 in 2007. There has been a gradual increase in human-shark skirmishes in the Sunshine State since they dropped from 37 in 2000 to an 11-year-low of 12 in 2004, he said.

Within Florida, Volusia County continued its dubious distinction as the worlds shark bite capital with 17 incidents, its highest yearly total since 2002, Burgess said. Attractive waves off New Smyrna Beach on the central Atlantic coast are popular with surfers, he said.

Additional U.S. attacks were recorded in Hawaii seven marking a five-year-high, along with South Carolina, five; California, three; North Carolina, two; and Texas, one.

Fifty-six percent of the 2007 victims were surfers and windsurfers; followed by swimmers and waders, 38 percent; and divers and snorkelers, 6 percent.

Last years Sept. 30 fatal attack involved a 23-year-old woman from France who was snorkeling off the Loyalty Islands archipelago in French New Caledonia and became separated from a friend, Burgess said. She was a nurse who had just finished a hospital contract in Noumea and was taking a brief vacation before flying home, he said.

We advise not getting yourself isolated because there is safety in numbers, he said. Sharks, like all predators, tend to go after solitary individuals, the weak and the infirm, and are less likely to attack people or fish in groups.

Last year had few spectacular attacks or heartwarming rescue stories, Burgess said. It was mostly minor injuries, he said. There werent too many made-for-movie moments.


Contact: George Burgess
University of Florida

Related biology news :

1. Mummy lice found in Peru may give new clues about human migration
2. Blue-eyed humans have a single, common ancestor
3. Virtual human in HIV drug simulation
4. Earths soils bear unmistakable footprints of humans
5. Great apes endangered by human viruses
6. Stowers Proteomics Center devises method for assigning probabilities to human protein interactions
7. The human brain: Detective of auditory and visual change
8. Monkey malaria widespread in humans and potentially fatal
9. Humana Press journals now available on SpringerLink
10. Researchers uncover new piece to the puzzle of human height
11. Humans have caused profound changes in Caribbean coral reefs
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... -- Connected health pioneer, Joseph C. Kvedar , MD, ... and wellness, and the business opportunities that arise from ... of Healthy Things . Long before health and ... Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, was creating ... from the hospital or doctor,s office into the day-to-day ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... 2015 Munich, Germany ... technology (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking ... , so that they can be quantitatively analyzed with ... Munich, Germany , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s Automated ... mobile eye tracking videos created with SMI,s Eye ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... Calif. , Oct. 26, 2015  Delta ID ... biometric authentication to mobile and PC devices, announced its ... smartphone, the arrows NX F-02H launched by NTT DOCOMO, ... NX F-02H is the second smartphone to include iris ... technology in ARROWS NX F-04G in May 2015, world,s ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... Copper is an essential micronutrient that ... proteins, copper is also toxic to cells. With a $1.3 million award from ... conduct a systematic study of copper in the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa), ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris ... of IIROC on behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, ... release there are no corporate developments that would cause ... --> --> About Aeterna ... . --> Aeterna Zentaris is a ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 --> ... report "Oligonucleotide Synthesis Market by Product & Services (Primer, ... Diagnostic, DNA, RNAi), End-User (Research, Pharmaceutical & Biotech, Diagnostic ... the market is expected to reach USD 1,918.6 Million ... a CAGR of 10.1% during the forecast period. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), led by its ... as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing community. , FPV ... embraced this type of racing and several new model aviation pilots have joined the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: