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Florida Shark Attacks
There were 23 shark attacks in Florida last year, and though none were fatal, it was a higher total than any other state or country in the world.
Florida led the world in shark attacks last year, though none of them were fatal.
The University of Florida's International Shark Attack File released a report Monday that said there were 23 unprovoked shark attacks in Florida last year, most in the United States and more than any other country.
Worldwide there were 72 unprovoked shark attacks, including 10 fatalities. The United States had 47 attacks. Hawaii had 13, South Carolina had six and Alabama, California, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas had one each.
A shark attack in Hawaii was the nation's only fatality. The last fatality involving a shark bite in Florida occurred in 2010 in Martin County. Australia and Runion each had two shark attack deaths while Brazil, Diego Garcia, Jamaica, New Zealand and South Africa had one each.
Florida's Volusia County led the state with eight attacks. None of the bites in Volusia County were fatal, according to the Daytona Beach News Journal, and no one has ever been killed by a shark in Volusia. The county's only recorded shark-related fatality was in 1981 and occurred well offshore.
George Burgess, the director of the shark program at University of Florida’s Museum for Natural History, said yearly fluctuations in the number of shark attacks are normal because changes in ocean systems, economics and population growth might affect the opportunities for humans to encounter sharks.
“The number of these (incidents) goes up and down due to a variety factors,” he said. “When sudden increases in shark attacks occur, usually human factors are involved that promote interactions between sharks and people. Shark populations are not in a growth phase by any means.”
Black-tip and spinner sharks are the species most commonly involved in the Florida attacks, Burgess said. He described the attacks as "hit-and-run" with the sharks most likely mistaking humans splashing in the water for fish or other marine life.
“Sharks have a lot more fear from us than we do from the them,” Burgess said. “Statistically, shark attacks are extremely rare, especially considering the number of humans that enter the water each year."
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Kent Williams, owner of New Fishall Bait Company, stands next to a 13235 pound Mako shark at the company's headquarters in Gardena, Calif, on June 4, 2013 (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Genaro Molina)