Aug 18 2014

Shark Attacks in 2014: Statistics and Survivors

Shark Attacks are not common, but according to sensationalism and harrowing survivor stories, the attacks themselves are the stuff of legends.

However, shark attack statistics indicate that in 2013 there were 72 incidents of shark attacks reported worldwide that were unprovoked, meaning the victim did not aggravate or bring on the attack.

big shark swimmingIn the 2013 yearly total there were 53 incidents where sharks were considered to have been provoked, and of this 53, 28 of them involved people who interacted negatively with sharks through sport fishing and other aggressive human behavior.

Real time tracking of shark attack incidents for 2014 indicates that as of August 16, there were a total of 64 shark attacks that killed five people, injured 49 others and menaced nine.

Florida leads the nation in the amount of yearly U.S. attacks. It has been reported that New Smyrna Beach, Florida, is the most common place in the world to come in contact with sharks.

The United States has the most 2014 cases, with 30 attacks but no fatalities. Next is Australia, with 16 attacks and three fatalities. South Africa ranks third with only four attacks and one death.


Muizenberg Beach

Although shark attacks are not common, during this year stories made headlines with accounts of shark aggression.

Several have been in South Africa. On August 1, a Great White shark attacked a 20 year old surfer off of Muizenberg Beach, South Africa and eyewitness accounts reported the shark to be close to 13 feet.

The shark attack victim suffered lacerations on their legs and a deep wound on their thigh, but are expected to recover fully.

Another shark attack occurred in May when a film crew shooting off the South African coast witnessed a shark come to their boat and chew a hole in it. One of the pontoons on the boat popped, and began to deflate and sink, yet all the crew made it to shore safely.

On July 6, a long distance swimmer was bit by a Great White shark off the coast of California’s Manhattan Beach. The shark had been provoked by being on a hook of a nearby fisherman and panicked, attacking the swimmer as they approached nearby. The swimmer credited God and a good punch to the nose as reasons they survived the attack.


Manhattan Beach Pier in Southern California

Although no incidents have been reported in 2014, there were documented accounts in 2010 of sharks in the Red Sea attacking swimmers, yet no one could identify the species. One victim reported a description that researchers recognized as an Oceanic White Tip shark, and it was a match with the victims’ bite marks. These attacks were very unusual because this species of shark normally stays in open oceans, and not water that is as shallow as the Red Sea.

Shark attacks have been increasing, but according to George Burgess, the Director of the Florida Museum of Natural History, the increase is proportionate to the world’s growing population, and not a result of increasing shark aggression.


The Aggressive Bull Shark

Reportedly there are only a dozen of the 500 species of sharks that are dangerous.

Many people assume, thanks to the many movies made about Great White sharks that they are the most predatory, but actually Bull sharks are the most aggressive when locating and feeding on prey and are persistent, meaning that they will attack repeatedly.

According to Burgess, the Black tip shark is the most common culprit for shark bites in the southeastern United States.

Most of these shark attacks occur by mistake, with the shark immediately letting go after they realize humans are not their desired prey.

Tiger sharks are also an aggressive breed that lives usually near coastlines in the East, with Great White sharks typically inhabiting the waters off the West Coast.

Statistics for the chance of being bitten by a shark are miniscule. People are more likely to drown, die in boating accidents, or be killed while surfing than be attacked by a shark, with the chance of being attacked by a shark being 1 in 11.5 million. Sharks are much more likely to be killed by humans than to kill a human.

Surfing_in_Hawaii+50_saturationThings to remember to protect people from shark attacks include not swimming at sunset, sunrise and nighttime (typical activity times for sharks) avoiding unnecessary splashing (it signals distress) and not entering the water while bleeding.

It is also advised to stay as close to the shoreline as possible, and to remember that when you are in the ocean, you are in a different habitat and must respect the animals within that habitat.

The waters are sharks’ homes, and there must be an awareness to proceed with caution while in the water.

10 Sharks Most Likely to Attack People