Do fewer shark bites mean fewer sharks?

Less unprovoked shark bites reported last year

Shark attacks worldwide fell in 2022, resulting in fewer shark bite incidents compared to the past decade.

In 2020, travel restrictions and beach closures were thought to have resulted in fewer encounters between humans and sharks and fewer shark bites.

The majority of the 57 unprovoked bites last year occurred in the USA and Australia. Five proved fatal, down from nine in 2021 and 10 the previous year.

But it’s bad news for sharks. Declining shark bites could reflect declining shark populations.

Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark research program said…

“Generally speaking, the number of sharks in the world’s oceans has decreased, which may have contributed to recent lulls. Likely, fatalities are down because some areas have recently implemented rigorous beach safety protocols, especially in Australia.”

Scuba divers are lumped together with snorkelers and free divers in the stats but still account for only 12% of bite victims. The majority are surfers or swimmers.

Since 2013 there have been an average of 74 unprovoked shark bites per year.

Nalor said…

“Unprovoked bites give us significantly more insight into the biology and behaviour of sharks. Changing the environment such that sharks are drawn to the area in search of their natural food source might prompt them to bite humans when they otherwise wouldn’t.”

The highest number of bites occurred in the USA, especially Florida, though none of the state’s 16 unprovoked bites proved fatal.

Shark attacks in Thailand are extremely rare. The website, Shark Attack Data, which tracks global shark attacks in a bid to increase understanding of when, how and why sharks interact with humans has recorded only five unprovoked attacks in Thailand since 1966, one of which was last year.

Nine unprovoked bites occurred in Australia, and two in South Africa, both thought to be by white sharks and both fatal. Single incidents occurred in Brazil and New Zealand.

Fewer shark bites mean the chances of being bitten by a shark remain incredibly low.

Do fewer shark bites mean fewer sharks? | News by Thaiger

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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