The 2004 numbers were the lowest in more than a decade, however, and were probably due to Florida's unusually active hurricane season, which kept people out of the water, he said.
In addition to last year's 38 U.S. attacks, Burgess tracked 10 in Australia, four in South Africa and one each in the Bahamas, St. Martin, Mexico, Fiji, Vanuatu and South Korea.
Compared with previous years, the number of attacks in Australia was relatively high last year and in 2004, when there were 12, prompting some people to call for the installation of nets to barricade sharks from beaches, Burgess said. But the per capita rate of shark attacks has not risen over the past century, with apparent increases coinciding with a rise in population and Australia's growing attraction to tourists in recent decades, he said.
The number of shark attacks at any particular time depends on a variety of factors, including oceanographic and meteorological conditions, abundance of prey items, and very important, the amount of time people spend in the water, he said.
"We need to remember there have been huge changes in how humans use the water over the last 20 to 30 years," Burgess said. "When our parents and grandparents went into the water, they maybe wiggled their toes, or if they were very daring, jumped in and swam. People of our generation are surfing, diving, sail boarding, scuba diving, skin diving and engaging in all kinds of activities."
Of this year's four fatalities, two were in Australia, one in the Indo-Pacific island of Vanuatu and one in the United States.
The U.S. attack occurred June 25 along Florida's Gulf Coast, when 14-year-old Jamie Daigle was attacked by a bull shark while swimming off Sandestin. It was the state's first death from a shark attack in four years. Two days later, also in the Florida Panhandle, 16-year-old Craig Hutto lost his right leg to a shark while fishing in w
Source:University of Florida