America’s going to need a bigger boat.
In 2012, shark attacks in U.S. waters tied the record of 53 unprovoked attacks set in 2000. Florida had the most with 26 bites. The recently released University of Florida International Shark Attack File listed a global total of 80 unprovoked attacks. Seven of those attacks proved fatal.
Shark attack numbers have been increasing over the decades, but that doesn’t mean America needs to hire Captain Quint from “Jaws.”
“The concept of ‘let’s go out and kill them’ is an archaic approach to a shark attack problem, and its opportunities for success are generally slim-to-none,” George Burgess director of the International Shark Attack File program said in a press release. “It’s mostly a feel-good revenge – like an ‘eye for an eye’ approach – when in fact you’re not likely to catch the shark that was involved in the situation. The shark that was involved in the situation also isn’t necessarily likely to do it again.”
The increase in shark attack shouldn’t be blamed on the fish, said Burgess. Increasing human populations around the globe are spending more time in the ocean which increases the chances of shark attack. Surfers need to be especially vigilant. Sixty percent of attacks were on surfers.
“Shark attacks are rare and it doesn’t matter whether you call them attacks or bites or bumps – your chances of having any of them are slim,” Burgess said. “We could reduce risks by avoiding areas and times when sharks are most common, and where danger is at its highest. A perfect example of that is in Western Australia, where people have been getting hit in areas of known white shark abundance at times of year when white shark numbers are at their highest – the responsibility is upon us, as humans, to avoid such situations or else pay the consequence.”
IMAGE: Underwater view of photographer swimming next to Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) in Pacific Ocean off the coast of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. (Corbis)