U.S. leads world in shark attacks in 2006
February 13, 2007

The United States led the world in shark attacks in 2006, according to figures released from the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File. The U.S. had 38 shark attacks, down from 40 in 2005. Globally there were 62 known shark attacks in 2006, an increase of 1 from 2005, but well below the 79 attacked recorded in 2000.

Only 4 of the shark attacks in 2006 were fatal again proving the rarity of such attacks.

"Falling coconuts kill 150 people worldwide each year, 15 times the number of fatalities attributable to sharks," said George Burgess, Director of International Shark Attack File.

    Charts based on International Shark Attack File data. Shark image courtesy of NOAA.

The four deaths in 2006 occurred in waters off Australia, Brazil, Reunion, and Tonga. The researchers count only unprovoked attacks.

Burgess says that despite larger numbers of people participating in ocean activities, shark attacks have declined in recent years due to over-fishing of sharks, often for their fins which are considered a delicacy in Asian. A study published in the October 2006 edition of Ecology Letters estimates that between 26 million and 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins.

The United States usually leads the world in shark attacks. In 2006, Florida was again the world shark attack capital with 23 attacks, but the state was well below the annual average of 33 between 2000 and 2003. Outside of Florida, U.S. attacks occurred in South Carolina (4 attacks), Hawaii (3), Oregon (3), California (2), New Jersey (1), North Carolina (1) and Texas (1). An American Peace Corps volunteer was fatally attacked in Tonga this year.

"This was a nice dull year and we love dull years because it means there are fewer serious attacks and fewer victims," Burgess said. "It's really quite remarkable when you have only four people a year die in the mouth of a shark and puts in perspective how small shark attack is as a phenomenon."

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This article used information from a Reuters report.


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U.S. leads world in shark attacks in 2006.