ISAF 2014 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary
When it comes to scuba diving, if you are educated and prepared, there are little arguments not to consider scuba diving. But, when it comes to diving with sharks people tend to be more careful and often hesitate because of the possible risks when dealing with sharks.
According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), in the 2014, there have been 72 unprovoked shark attacks on humans. These are described as an attack on a live human by a shark that happened in its natural habitat without any human provocation of the shark.
This number was lower than the 75 recorded in 2013. The number unprovoked shark attacks appears to have risen since 1900. However, this does not necessarily mean an increase in the rate of shark attacks; it most likely reflects the ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the odds for interaction between our two species.
North American waters had the most (62.5%) unprovoked attacks in 2014. The total of 52 attacks in the United States (including seven in non-North American Hawaii) was slightly higher than the 2013 total of 47 recorded U.S. attacks but lower than the 54 recorded in 2012. It is useful to note that of the 52 recorded attacks, 28 took place in waters around Florida. The 2012-2014 numbers lie in contrast with the 29 recorded in 2009, the lowest U.S. annual number of this century. Elsewhere, multiple attacks occurred in Australia (11) and South Africa (2), with single incidents reported from Reunion, Japan, Spain, New Zealand, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and the Galapagos Islands.
Significantly, worldwide only three fatalities resulted from unprovoked attacks in 2014, two in Australia and one in South Africa. This number is extremely low given the number of humans that are often in the water each year. The long-term trend in fatality rates has been in constant reduction over the past century, mostly because of advances in the medical field, beach safety practices and increased public awareness of avoiding potentially dangerous situations. This shows the need for increasing efforts to improve beach safety, recruitment of well-trained lifeguards, and advancing emergency medical care and medical capabilities in many areas of the world.
Among most common victims of the attacks were surfers and other board sports members (65%). Less affected recreational user groups included swimmers (32%) and snorkelers (3%). Most importantly, there were no attacks on SCUBA divers in 2014.
However, if attacked by a shark we advise an aggressive response. Hitting a shark on the nose, ideally with an inanimate object, usually results in the shark temporarily curtailing its attack. One should try to get out of the water at this time. If this is not possible, repeated blows to the snout may offer a temporary reprieve, but the result is likely to become increasingly less effective. If a shark actually bites, we suggest attacking its most sensitive areas, the eyes and gill openings. One should not act passively if under attack.