Globally, unprovoked shark attacks have been declining in the last two years, according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) compiled by the University of Florida. There were 64 unprovoked bites in 2019, roughly in line with 2018’s 62 bites, and about 22% lower than the most recent five-year (2014-18) average of 82 incidents a year.
The United States had the highest number of unprovoked attacks in 2019, at 41, and Florida was the US region with the highest number, at 21. The Florida Museum of Natural History. located in the university, quoted Gavin Naylor, director of its shark research programme, as saying that the recent decline may reflect changes in the migration patterns of blacktip sharks, the species most implicated in the 21 bites that took place in Florida.
The 64 unprovoked bites were out of 140 shark attacks in 2019. Among the rest, 41 were provoked attacks, 12 were boat attacks, one involved shark-inflicted postmortem bites and one case involved a diver in a public aquarium. In three cases, it could not be determined if shark-human interaction was involved; nine more cases were listed as “not confirmed”.
Following the US’s 41 cases was Australia with 11; these two countries accounted for over 80% of all cases. In 2018, there were 32 unprovoked attacks in the US.
The report also looked at the activity of victims at the time of the attacks. Over half of them (53%) were surfing or participating in board sports. These were followed by swimming/wading at 25%, snorkeling/free-diving at 11%, body-surfing/horseplay at 8% and scuba diving at 3%. The report said that given the number of people participating in aquatic recreation activity, the total number of unprovoked shark attacks around the world is “extremely low”.
Data source: University of Florida
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