Thursday, 9 June 2016

Why Are Shark Attacks on the Rise?

By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | June 7, 2016 02:06pm ET

Shark attacks have dominated Australian headlines during the past week, with two fatalities occurring just a few days apart in waters near Perth.

Those attacks may not be just a coincidence or bad luck: Shark attacks have been on the rise, with more attacks reported worldwide last year than in any other year on record, according to an annual survey.

The International Shark Attack File (ISAF), a database of shark attacks maintained by the Florida Museum of Natural History (FMNH), includes a yearly summary of so-called "unprovoked attacks" — aggressive interactions initiated by sharks against people in the sharks' habitat, without any prior contact — and tallied 98 such attacks in 2015. The previous record was 88 attacks, which occurred in 2000.

Forty-nine percent of the incidents involved surfers, according to the ISAF.

However, the report noted that the increased number of attacks likely does not indicate that sharks are attacking people more frequently. Rather, human populations are growing, so there are more people swimming, surfing and diving in the ocean.

But concerns about sharks are currently running high in Australia. On June 5, a woman diving near a marina near Perth died after being mauled by a shark, becoming the second person in one week to suffer a fatal shark attack while in Australian waters.

The 60-year-old woman was attacked by a shark (possibly a great white shark) measuring an estimated 16 feet (5 meters), according to the trio of fisherman who tried to help her and who claimed that the shark was "longer than their boat," the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.

ABC added that the woman was believed to have died before she could be moved to shore.
And on May 31, Ben Gerring, 29, was severely injured when he was bitten by a shark while surfing, also near Perth. Gerring was transported to Royal Perth Hospital and died of his injuries on June 3, ABC reported.

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