A woman holds a shark plush toy in protest against the
catching and killing of sharks in Western Australia. (Photo
by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Shark attacks fell to a five-year low in 2013 but the
number of fatalities rose to 10, up from an average of six
deaths in recent years, according to a new report.
There were 72 confirmed shark attacks in 2013, with Florida
leading the globe with 23 and Hawaii with 13, according to
the University of Florida's annual International Shark Attack
Those attacks resulted in two deaths in Australia and two
deaths on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean
near Madagascar. Brazil, Hawaii, Jamaica, New Zealand and
South Africa each had one death as well as Diego Garcia, a
coral atoll in the British Indian Ocean where the U.S.
operates a naval facility.
The fatality in Maui was the first in Hawaii since 2004.
There were 81 shark attacks in 2012 and seven fatalities.
The study excludes attacks in which the shark may have been
provoked such as during research experiments and fishing
George Burgess, curator of the file, said annual fluctuations
in shark attacks typically can be traced to such diverse
factors as an improved economy and warm temperatures bringing
more people to the beach.
"A number of these attacks and deaths occurred in areas of
the world where you're now visiting because we are a more
mobile society and there is a great interest by people to go
to out of the way places," Burgess said.
While Florida led the globe in shark attacks, the 23 attacks
were about average for the U.S. state, which has averaged 21
attacks a year for the past decade.
Volusia County, where shark attack capital Daytona Beach is
located, had eight attacks last year.
Sharks off Florida's heavily populated east coast tend to be
small, and they occasionally clamp down on surfers or
swimmers they mistake for prey.
The last death in Florida was in February 2010.
Burgess said Australia overall experienced 10 attacks in
2013, the lowest annual total since 2008. The two deaths were
in line with the country's 10-year average of 1.4 deaths per
year, he said.
Western Australia, with two deaths in 2013 and a total of six
over the past four years, remained what Burgess called a
shark attack "hot spot."
The death scorecard remains in favor of humans. Compared with
the 10 people killed by sharks in 2013, Burgess said, 30
million to 70 million sharks are killed by humans annually,
primarily by commercial fishing.