Last month on June 26th a tragic incident happened when a Trio of Tiger sharks killed California college student snorkeling in the Bahamas.
According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), between 1958 and 2016 there were 2,785 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks around the world, of which 439 were fatal.
In 2000, there were 79 shark attacks reported worldwide, 11 of them fatal. In 2005 and 2006, this number decreased to 61 and 62 respectively, while the number of fatalities dropped to only four per year. The 2016 yearly total of 81 shark attacks worldwide was on par with the most recent five-year (2011–2015) average of 82 incidents annually. By contrast, the 98 shark attacks in 2015, was the highest yearly total on record.
Despite these reports, however, the actual number of fatal shark attacks worldwide remains uncertain. For the majority of Third World coastal nations, there exists no method of reporting suspected shark attacks; therefore, losses and fatalities near-shore or at sea often remain unsolved or unpublicized.
Of these attacks, the majority occurred in the United States (53 in 2000, 40 in 2005, and 39 in 2006)
According to the ISAF, the US states in which the most attacks have occurred are Florida, Hawaii, California, Texas and the Carolinas (Where on May it was reported Dozens of great white sharks were swarming around the Carolina coast – including some of the biggest currently tracked in the Atlantic Ocean.)
Why the Shark Attack Happens
Of the hundreds of shark species, there are three most often implicated in unprovoked shark attacks on humans:
1. White Sharks.
2. Tiger Sharks.
3. Bull sharks.
These three species are dangerous mostly because of their size and also their tremendous bite power.
The cluster of deaths puzzles researchers because, as shark numbers are declining overall, attacks seem to be holding steady, or are even rising, depending on the region, some think that not because sharks are more aggressive but in their opinion Humans have taken to coastal waters in increasing numbers.
According to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sharks do not normally hunt humans, but if they do attack, it is usually a case of mistaken identity. Assuming a large, predatory shark has not been exposed to human flesh before, it is probably used to biting into thick-tissued, fatty sea lions, seals and similar-bodied prey.
Sometimes sharks will investigate potential food items by taking a taste. Unfortunately, given their many rows of sharp teeth, a few shark species can cause an individual to bleed to death after a single bite. The problem is compounded in lakes, rivers and estuaries, where freshwater sharks, such as bull sharks, often share water space with humans who are swimming, boating, fishing or engaged in some other form of recreation that might put them face to face with a shark. According to Shark Experts Murray Suid and George Burgess, who is also a senior biologist and director of the International Shark Attack File, there are four basic types of shark attacks on humans.
- Provoked attacks, the most common attacks. which occur when people in some way touch, or otherwise disturb, sharks. Fishermen removing sharks from their nets, for example, might lose a finger or limb if not careful. Sometimes divers have taunted or tried to grab a shark, with not-surprising consequences.
- Hit-and-run attacks —which are the most common among the unprovoked attacks, where when a shark grabs, releases and leaves the scene. The shark could be investigating the individual, thinking he or she was its usual prey. It might also perceive the individual as a threat, similar to how a more aggressive, yet fearful, dog could attack anyone who mistakenly treads on its turf.
- Sneak attacks, when a deep-sea shark moves upon a diver unawares.
- Bump-and-bite attacks, that is when a shark head-butts a person before it takes a bite.
Preventing A Shark Attack
NOAA Fisheries Service offers the following tips on minimizing the risk of shark attack:
1) Stay in groups and do not wander away from your companions, since sharks are more likely to attack individuals.
2) Avoid being in the water during early morning and late afternoon, since sharks actively feed at those times.
3) Never go into the water if you are bleeding, even if the cut or injury is minor. Sharks possess very keen senses, and blood could attract one from several feet away.
4) Don’t wear shiny jewelry when in the water. The glisten mimics fish-scale sheen and visually labels you as shark prey.
5) Stay away from sport or commercial fishermen when in the water, as their catches could attract sharks.
6) Avoid wearing brightly colored clothing in murky waters, since sharks easily perceive color contrasts.
7) Refrain from excessive splashing, which could mimic the movements of injured or disoriented prey fish and animals.
8) Sandbars, steep drop-offs and estuary inlets tend to be shark hangouts, so avoid swimming in these places.