February 20, 2009

Mute the Jaws Music. Shark Attacks Drop in 2008

Associated Press
February 20, 2009

JACKSONVILLE (AP) — Shark attacks dipped to the lowest level in five years in 2008, a change that might have happened because the ailing economy kept cash-strapped vacationers away from beaches, a leading shark expert said Thursday. There were 59 shark attacks around the world last year, down from 71 in 2007, said George Burgess, an ichthyologist and director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida's Museum of Natural History. “I can't help but think that contributing to the reduction may have been the reticence of some people to take holidays and go to the beach for economic reasons,” Burgess said in a news release. While the economy is a possible explanation, shark populations also have declined due to commercial fishing. In some areas, the number of sharks is down to 10 percent of the original populations.

There were four fatal attacks in 2008, which is about average, Burgess said. Only one death was reported in 2007, a two-decade low. Two of the deaths last year were in Mexico, one was in Australia and one was in the United States. The number of shark attacks in the United States dropped from 50 in 2007 to 41 last year, Burgess said. Of those, 32 were in Florida, the same as the previous year, followed by North Carolina and South Carolina with three each; Hawaii with two and California with one. Surfers accounted for 57 percent of the attacks, followed by 36 percent for swimmers and waders and 8 percent for divers, Burgess said. The numbers were rounded upward, so the total exceeds 100 percent.

Florida's Volusia County continued its dubious distinction of the world's shark-bite capital with 22 attacks, its highest yearly total since 2001. Most of them were in New Smyrna Beach on the central Atlantic coast.

Photo Credit: Chief Brody & Sign

2008 NC/SC Media Reported (Possible) Shark Attacks

And don't forget to check out past Carolina Beach Today shark posts
including the August 14th, 2008 account of a Fayetteville man who claims he was the victim of a shark encounter here in Carolina Beach. I assume that he was not included in the official list.

On the bright side, just because you may find yourself surrounded by sharks...it doesn't mean that you'll get nipped. Crazy video:
Per the video tag: KTLA 8/19/08 I am not sure where this was filmed. It was from a Los Angeles news site, perhaps a news chopper? There is no audio.
UPDATE 02/21: Here is a more detailed report of the shark attacks that occurred in 2008: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/sharks/statistics/2008attacksummary.htm
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