Unprovoked shark attacks declined in 2016

January 27, 2017 | Environment
Sharks: the number of unprovoked attacks decreased in 2016 | Photo: Shutterstock

The number of worldwide unprovoked shark attacks dropped 17.3 percent in 2016.

The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) analyzed 150 incidents involving shark-human interaction and concluded that 81 of these events were, in fact, unprovoked attack on humans.

In 2015, the number shark attacks had hit 98. According to the ISAF, an unprovoked attack is an attack occurred in the shark's habitat with no human provocation of the predator.

North American waters had the most unprovoked attacks in 2016, i.e., 43 incidents (53.1 percent of the world's total), and there were no fatalities in the US and Canada.

Australia had 15 unprovoked attacks, seven of which occurred in New South Wales, four in Western Australia, two in Queensland, and single incidents reported in Tasmania and Victoria.

ISAF says that shark attacks were responsible for four deaths in 2016 - two in Australia, and two in New Caledonia.

"These totals are remarkably low given the billions of human-hours spent in the water each year," explains George H. Burgess, curator of the International Shark Attack File, a project run at the University of Florida.

"The long-term trend in fatality rates has been one of constant reduction over the past 11 plus decades, reflective of advances in beach safety practices and medical treatment, and increased public awareness of avoiding potentially dangerous situations."

Surfers, bodyboarders, skimboarders, kitesurfers, and windsurfers are the most affected by shark attacks - 58 percent of the 2016 events involved them.

The least affected were swimmers/waders (32.1 percent), users using floatation gear (3.7 percent), and snorkelers (4.9 percent); in 2016, only one shark attack involved a scuba diver.

Discover the most shark-infested waters in the world. Learn how to survive a shark attack. Explore things you didn't know about sharks.

ISAF 2016 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary

Total number of worldwide shark attacks: 150
Unprovoked shark attacks: 81
Provoked shark attacks: 69
Deaths from unprovoked shark attacks: 4

Regional Distribution of Unprovoked Shark Attacks

US: 53
Australia: 15
Hawaii: 10
New Caledonia: 4
Indonesia: 2
Bahama Islands: 1
South Africa: 1
Brazil: 1
Japan: 1
La Reunion: 1
Spain: 1
Sri Lanka: 1

Recreational User Groups in Unprovoked Shark Attacks

Surfers and boardsports users: 58%
Swimmers/waders: 32.1%)
Flotation gear users: 3.7%
Snorkelers: 4.9%
Scuba divers: 1%+

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