GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida was the world leader in unprovoked shark attacks last year with 23, easily most in the United States and more than twice the number as any other country, according to a report released Monday.
None of the Florida attacks was among the 10 fatal incidents around the world, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.
Worldwide there were 72 unprovoked shark attacks in 2013, down from 81 the year before and the lowest recorded since 67 attacks in 2009. The United States had 47 attacks, with 13 in Hawaii, six in South Carolina and one each in Alabama, California, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas.
Australia had 10 unprovoked attacks last year and South Africa had five. No other country had more than three.
“Sharks have a lot more to fear from us than we do from them,” said George Burgess, who maintains the shark file. “Statistically, shark attacks are extremely rare, especially considering the number of humans that enter the water each year.”
The International Shark Attack File investigated 125 shark incidents but determined many of them were provoked attacks. It defines unprovoked attacks as incidents involving live humans who encounter a shark in its natural habitat and do nothing to provoke it. It doesn’t include attacks in aquariums, sharks feeding on people who were already dead or incidents in which a person initiates contact with a shark.
A shark attack in Hawaii was the nation’s only fatality. Australia and Réunion each had two shark attack deaths while Brazil, Diego Garcia, Jamaica, New Zealand and South Africa had one each.
Florida has averaged 21 unprovoked shark attacks over the past 10 years, with Volusia County seeing the most activity. There were eight attacks last year in Volusia, which has the popular surfing destination Daytona Beach.
Surfers and others participating in board sports were victims in 46 percent of the world’s unprovoked shark attacks last year.
(© Copyright 2014 the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)