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Human deaths from shark attacks hit 20-year low last year
Date:2/12/2008

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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
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Contact: George Burgess
gburgess@flmnh.ufl.edu
352-272-2360
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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