New research shows that in a number of hotspots – Australia, the US, South Africa, Brazil, Reunion Island and the Bahamas – the prevalence of unprovoked shark bites is on the rise.
But researchers say the risk of human injury and fatality remains very small.
“We still remain more likely to be injured by fireworks than we are by sharks,” researcher Dr Daryl McPhee said.
The study, by Bond University’s Dr McPhee and Dr Blake Chapman, has shed new light on unprovoked shark attacks, which have been climbing steadily around the world over the past three decades.
The new research is an extension of a study completed in 2014, which found Australia recorded the highest number of fatal shark bites globally over the past three decades, with the number of unprovoked bites increasing threefold.
Dr McPhee said the trend of shark bites occurring in clusters was evidence that while a degree of chance was involved, unprovoked shark bites were not “completely random”.
Along with growing human populations, factors like warmer seas and coastal development were increasingly bringing humans into close contact with sharks and raising the risk of unprovoked bites.
Dr McPhee said that ongoing work such as tagging and identifying trends in abundance and size of sharks was critical to mitigating the already low risk of an attack.
You can read more about the study’s findings here. Story credit: Bond University newsroom.
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