Marine Biology

Shark Attacks in us on the Rise but no need to Panic



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The calendar on the wall currently says February, but already, thoughts are fast forwarding a few months ahead. Minds are fixated on sand and surf, which means that many folks are getting in early reservations to their favorite beaches around America. After a long cold winter, there is nothing quite like lounging on a beach chair or heading out into the waves to enjoy the warm ocean waters. Interestingly enough though, the warm waters might not be the only thing waiting for those tan beachgoers.

According to the International Shark Attack File Survey, some not so friendly friends from the ocean deep decided that 2012 was a mighty good year to take a bite out of folks, literally. Shark attacks in American waters set a new high since the turn of the century. 2012 concluded with 53 shark attacks, tying the mark set in the year 2000. One would think that shark attacks do not bring about much luck, but the statistics show that only one of the 53 attacks resulted in a fatality.

Should this signal a change in vacation habits for American families? The folks doing the survey do not seem to see a need for that. Though Chief Brody on the beaches of Amity might be screaming, "Get out of the Water", the experts say that these numbers are not that alarming. Quoting a USA Today piece on the topic, the experts said, "such marked year-to-year jumps and drops in shark-human interactions ... are not unusual as a plethora of oceanographic, meteorological, economic and human social variables affect the opportunity for humans and sharks to cross paths in a given year."

The question has to be why the number of shark attacks is on the rise. Experts at the University of Florida, where the Shark Attack File is compiled, believes that a rebounding economy might be at fault. One has almost got to chuckle at those words, which seem to say that American swimmers are safer in a recession than they are in good economic times. George Burgess, who is in charge of the survey says, "The numerical growth in shark interactions does not necessarily mean that there is an increase in the rate of shark attacks; rather, it most likely reflects the ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the opportunities for interaction between the two affected parties."

Families that are concerned about these things should take note that the highest incident of shark attacks is down in the Florida area, where 26 reported attacks took place last year. Sharks were all over the map though in 2012, with California, Hawaii, and the Carolinas also getting a few close encounters of the unwanted kind. Heck, there was even one attack in the New York state area.

Even with all of this, the statistics show that Americans have only a 2 percent chance of being killed in a shark attack. That is because the United States has better safety measures in place to keep folks away from the finned characters, plus the medical treatment is far better than in some other countries. One of the more astounding things the report pointed out though was that of the 53 reported attacks in the U.S. in 2012, only 11 of those were of the unprovoked variety. The report does not indicate what provoked means in this instance, but one has to wonder about the sanity of anyone who would think of getting a shark fired up on his home turf!

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More about this author: John Atchison

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/sharks/isaf/2012summary.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/12/shark-attacks/1913817/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/12/16941733-shark-attacks-on-the-rise-with-the-economy