Shark assaults improve worldwide after 3 years of decline — with 64% of bites reported within the U.S., researchers say

Shark assaults elevated world wide in 2021 following three consecutive years of decline, although seaside closures in 2020 brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic may very well be making the numbers appear extra dramatic than they’re, officers mentioned Monday. The U.S. as soon as once more reported probably the most assaults and Florida accounted for almost 40% of unprovoked bites worldwide.  

Researchers with the Worldwide Shark Assault File recorded 73 unprovoked incidents final yr, in comparison with 52 bites in 2020, based on a brand new report. The analysis is run by the Florida Museum of Pure Historical past and the American Elasmobranch Society.     

Worldwide Shark Assault File supervisor Tyler Bowling identified that 52 bites in 2020 have been the bottom documented in additional than a decade. The 73 bites in 2021 extra intently align with the five-year international common of 72.

“Shark bites dropped drastically in 2020 because of the pandemic.” Bowling mentioned in an announcement. “This previous yr was rather more typical, with common chew numbers from an assortment of species and fatalities from white sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks.”

The U.S. as soon as once more reported probably the most unprovoked shark bites in 2021, with 47 confirmed circumstances — 64% of the worldwide whole. Australia had the second most unprovoked incidents with 12, researchers mentioned.

Nature: Nice white sharks


Researchers noticed a complete of 11 shark-related fatalities final yr, with 9 thought-about unprovoked. Australia led the world with three unprovoked deaths, adopted by New Caledonia with two. The USA, Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa every had a single unprovoked deadly shark assault.

Unprovoked assaults happen when there is no such thing as a human provocation. Provoked assaults are outlined as when people provoke contact, corresponding to divers making an attempt to the touch a shark or fishermen eradicating a shark from a fishing web, based on the Worldwide Shark Assault File.

Florida has led the U.S. and the remainder of the world in unprovoked shark bites for many years, and the pattern continued in 2021, researchers mentioned. Florida had 28 unprovoked bites final yr, in comparison with 19 in the remainder of the U.S. and 26 whole outdoors the U.S.   Florida’s 28 circumstances characterize 60% of the U.S. whole and 38% of unprovoked bites worldwide. 

That is according to Florida’s most up-to-date five-year annual common of 25 assaults. Of Florida’s 28 unprovoked bites, 17 have been in Volusia County, which incorporates Daytona Seaside.

The one deadly unprovoked shark assault within the U.S. in 2021 was in California. A person was killed whereas boogie boarding in Morro Bay on Christmas Eve.   

Assaults by nice white sharks in opposition to people are sometimes a results of mistaken identification, based on a examine analysis printed in October.

Sharks, based on the analysis, have restricted colour notion if they don’t seem to be utterly colour blind, and have spatial resolving energy that’s “significantly worse than people.”

Researchers discovered that juvenile nice whites can’t considerably differentiate between people swimming, people paddling surfboards, and pinnipeds, together with sea lions and seals. The silhouettes of the completely different objects on the floor are too comparable for the animals given their reliance on movement and light-weight.

“From the angle of a white shark…neither visible movement nor form cues enable an unequivocal visible distinction between pinnipeds and people,” the examine says, “supporting the mistaken identification concept behind some bites.” 

Li Cohen contributed to this report.

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