The US is experiencing an increase in shark attacks. Last year saw the largest number of cases domestically in more than a decade.
The findings come from Monday’s release of the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. Florida suffered the highest number of cases with a total of 26 shark attacks in 2012.
According to Fox News, the report confirms that 53 attacks were experienced in the US last year. It’s the highest number since 2000 and much higher than the reported 31 attacks that occurred in 2011.
George Burgess, curator of the International Shark Attack File and a scientist with the University of Florida, explains why the fluctuation isn’t as alarming as it sounds:
“Short-term trends in the number of shark bites — up or down — must be viewed with caution. The ISAF prefers to view trends over longer periods of time (e.g., by decade) rather than trying to assign too much significance to often high year-to-year variability.”
An article by Discovery News writes that the study does not aim to fuel hatred or fear toward sharks. The rise in human global populations spending time in the ocean naturally raises the chance of an attack occurring.
Burgess points out that humans must act responsibly when it comes to decreasing their risk of a shark attack:
“Shark attacks are rare and it doesn’t matter whether you call them attacks or bites or bumps – your chances of having any of them are slim. We could reduce risks by avoiding areas and times when sharks are most common, and where danger is at its highest. A perfect example of that is in Western Australia, where people have been getting hit in areas of known white shark abundance at times of year when white shark numbers are at their highest – the responsibility is upon us, as humans, to avoid such situations or else pay the consequence.”
In addition to the US shark attacks, the report found 27 other cases globally.