There were a total of 79 unprovoked shark attacks on human beings of which six proved to be fatal during 2010. Eight of these attacks took place in South Africa, resulting in two deaths.
The South African attacks both took place near Cape Town, with a swimmer being eaten at Fish Hoek in chest deep water by a Great White Shark that was described as being enormous by witnesses. The other attack took place near Gans Baai when a diver was attacked by what is also presumed to be a Great White.
The United States led the world in shark attacks (36) followed by Australia (14), South Africa (8), Vietnam (6) and Egypt (6). The most unusual event occurred off the coast of Egypt in early December with five attacks, including one fatality. The attacks occurred within five days and four of the five were attributed to two individual sharks.
“The number of shark-human interactions occurring in a given year is directly correlated to the amount of time humans spent in the sea. As world population continues its upsurge and interest in aquatic recreation concurrently rises, we realistically should expect increases in the number of shark attacks”, says George Burgess from the University of Florida.
Surfers (50.8%) and swimmers (37.7%) were the recreational groups most often involved in shark attacks in 2010. Less affected were snorkelers/divers (8.2%) and those using inflatable rafts and inner-tubes (3.3%).
“The number of shark attacks in a year could be cut in half if people just used more common sense”. Burgess said. There are simple ways to reduce the possibility of a shark attack, he said, including avoiding fishing areas and inlets like river mouths where sharks gather and leaving the water when a shark is sighted.
“The sea is actually very forgiving, certainly from the standpoint of the animal life,” Burgess said. “When you look at the big picture, it’s kind of ironic that these animals which are apex predators, the top of the food chain in the sea, are so readily caught.”
Because they are experts at finding their next meal, sharks are threatened by the lure of fishing lines. Humans kill 30 million to 70 million sharks per year in fisheries, while sharks claim an average of five human lives each year — the number of deaths caused by sharks is minimal compared to the billions of hours humans spend in the sea every year, he said.
Read the full International Shark Attack File here