Stab Magazine | "Shark Attack Rates Have Doubled In The Last Twenty Years"

“Shark Attack Rates Have Doubled In The Last Twenty Years”

But your chances of getting chomped are still less than one in a 1,000,000. 

Words by stab

“In highly populated regions like the Eastern USA and Southern Australia, shark attack rates have doubled in the last 20 years.” That’s what the recent study from Louisiana State University read. An opening line which will cease any scroll, transitioning it to an article click. 

For some, a stat like this may seem unsurprising, but it’s not as simple as more sharks, more attacks. While scientific reports often claim global shark numbers are dwindling, or at best, steady, anecdotes and subjective reports from fisherman almost always report the opposite. And as technological presence increases, not only are we tuned into breaking news more than ever with shark alert apps a few clicks away, we’re also more likely to report on attacks and encounters we see. 

The current study – the first assessing global trends over the last 50 years – focused on 14 countries, all with 10-plus attacks from 1960 onwards. It consisted of the usual, high-population suspects such as Australia and the United States, with low population yet high incident nations such as the Bahamas and New Caledonia also making the cut.

“Although not the focus of this contribution, the majority of all shark attack outcomes were non-fatal (85%), and typically less than about 25% of attacks were fatal in countries with >50 attacks since 1960.” The report’s results opened with. And despite a terrifying line about shark attacks doubling in the last 20 years, the haphazard variability of the data suggests we shouldn’t be hanging up our leggies just yet. Not to mention double the risk still sitting lower than two in 10,000 for those in the states and U.S of A. 

Data visualisation is the only way for lazy ‘jernalists’ and surf-consumers like you.

“…countries like the USA and Australia had low attack rates (<1 shark attack per million people), but reported higher numbers of attacks.” The report continued. “The majority of countries saw no perceptible trend or change in attack rates over decades, while some of the higher population countries like the USA and Australia exhibited increasing attack rates over time.” It should also be noted that the increasing rate in Australia is been driven by what the study refers to as Southern Australia (NSW and below), and the increase in attack rates since 1960 has increased from 1990 onwards.

Some other bad news for us seal-resembling surfers is our chance of getting chomped compared to other watergoers. An ‘activity’ which dominated the attack rate chart seen below. 

We can take some solace in the report stating that attack rates are partially caused by increasing populations and a subsequent rise in swimmers and surfers, but the authors were quick to state that “shark populations, coastal development and [other] environmental factors” being involved. 

All in all however, as is consciously ruminated by every concerned surfer, there’s still more chance you’ll be killed on the way to the beach than by a shark. Overall, on a global scale, your chance of getting nibbled is below 5 in 1,000,000 (and way lower in Oz and the US, around 2 per 10,000,000), and your chances of succumbing to a jellyfish, stingray, sunburn, or even the unprecedented ‘sand hole collapse’ is more likely to end your time. 

P.s. Sorry for seemingly insatiable Sunday shark article, feel free to berate me for my laziness down in the comments. Yours truly, le dart. 


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