|Woman attacked by shark in Brevard County. Brevard Times / File photo. |
COCOA BEACH, Florida — The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) released its 2013 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary today after investigating 125 alleged incidents of shark-human interaction occurring worldwide in 2013. 72 of those incidents were classified by ISAF as unprovoked shark attacks – down from 81 in 2012.
The United States had the most shark attacks world-wide at 47. Australia was second with 10. The 47 attacks in the United States was lower than the 2012 total of 54 recorded attacks (including Hawaii and Puerto Rico), the highest yearly total of the century, according to ISAF researchers from the University of Florida.
Florida had the most, and nearly half (23) of all unprovoked shark attacks in the United States. Hawaii had the second highest (13) number of shark attacks, followed by South Carolina with 6 attacks.
Within Florida, Volusia County had the highest number of shark attacks at 8. Volusia’s southern neighbor, Brevard County, came in second with 3 shark attacks. ISAF says geographically adjacent counties located on the central east coast, just east of Orlando, have collectively recorded more than one-third (37%: 257 of 687 cases) of the entirety of Florida’s shark-human interactions to date.
Researchers say that this high number of shark attacks around Florida’s Space Coast is attributable to very high aquatic recreational utilization of their attractive beaches and waters by both Florida residents and tourists, especially surfers, and the rich nature of Florida’s marine fauna.
|Black Tip Shark. Photo Credit: NOAA |
According to NOAA, the number one species for biting along the beaches on the U.S. East Coast is the blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) in the top picture. The shark has black tips on its pectoral fins and grows to no more than about six feet.
Ten fatalities resulted from unprovoked attacks in 2013, up from the 2012 total of seven and above the 2003-2012 ten-year average of six fatalities per year. Fatalities were recorded in Australia (2), Réunion (2), Brazil (1), Diego Garcia (1), Hawaii (1), Jamaica (1), New Zealand (1), and South Africa (1).
The fatality rate in the U.S. was notably lower (2.1%) than that of rest of the world (36%), which researchers believe is likely reflective of the greater safety and medical capacity in areas of the U.S. where shark attacks historically occur.
Surfers and others participating in board sports (46% of cases: 48 incidents) were most often involved in these incidents in 2013. Less affected recreational user groups included swimmers/waders (31%) and divers (14%). Surfers have been the most-affected user group in recent years. Researchers say that this is the probable result of the large amount of time spent by these folks engaged in provocative activity (kicking of feet, splashing of hands, and “wipeouts”) in areas frequented by sharks, the surf zone.