Last week, a snorkeler was left “screaming for help” after being begged by a shark off the coast of Cornwall in the first such attack in British waters in 175 years.
The woman – who has not been identified – was in Penzance, Cornwall, with Blue Shark Snorkel Trips when the incident occurred on Tuesday.
Although unprovoked shark attacks are extremely rare in the seas around the UK, they are much more common elsewhere in the world.
The Florida Museum has produced a handy interactive map that allows you to explore the number of unprovoked shark attacks around the world.
It reveals that the United States is the world’s shark attack hotspot, with 1,563 unprovoked attacks since 1580, followed by Australia (682 attacks), the Republic of South Africa (258 attacks) and Brazil (110 attacks).
The Florida Museum has produced a handy interactive map based on data from the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) that allows you to explore the number of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide since 1900
Although unprovoked shark attacks are extremely rare in British waters, they are much more common in other parts of the world. In the photo: a great white shark
Countries with the most unmotivated shark attacks since 1580
- United States – 1,564
- Australia – 682
- Republic of South Africa – 258
- Brazil – 110
- New Zeland – 56
- Papua New Guinea – 48
- Mascarene Islands – 47
- Mexico – 41
- Bahamas Iceland – 33
- Iran – 23
The interactive map is based on data from the International Shark Attack File (ISAF).
“The (ISAF) is the world’s only comprehensive and scientifically documented database of all known shark attacks,” the Florida Museum explains on its website.
“Started in 1958, there are now more than 6,800 individual investigations spanning the period from the early 1500s to the present.”
A slider at the bottom of the map allows you to change the date range from 1900 to 2021, while you can also use buttons to select certain shark species and whether the attacks were fatal or not.
You can then explore the number of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide by drawing a box around the data points that interest you.
In 2021, according to the ISAF, there were 137 alleged human-shark interactions around the world.
This included 73 unprovoked bites – those in which a bite occurred on a living human in the shark’s natural habitat – and 39 provoked bites.
“Of the remaining 25 cases, four involved bites from motorized or non-motorized sea vessels (” boat bites “) and one involved post mortem bites inflicted by sharks (” scavenge “),” explains the Florida Museum.
“Five cases were considered” dubious “or incidents that probably did not involve a shark.
“These included one case attributed to a parsnip, three attributed to bony fish and one to injuries associated with rubbing against a rock.”
The map reveals that the United States is the world’s hotspot for shark attacks, with 1,563 unprovoked attacks since 1580, followed by Australia (682 attacks), the Republic of South Africa (258 attacks) and Brazil (110 attacks)
In Europe, Greece is the area with the largest number of shark attacks since 1847 (15), followed by Italy (13) and Spain (6). However, only three attacks were recorded in British waters
Sharks found in British waters
Smooth hammerhead shark – North Atlantic off the western tip of Cornwall
blue shark – 10 miles off the south coast of Cornwall
Thresher shark – English Channel off the coast of Devon
Shortfin mako shark – Bristol Channel and off the coast of Wales
Emery shark – More common on the south coast
Basking shark – Sea of the Hebrides
Of the 73 unprovoked shark bites recorded last year, the vast majority (47) were recorded in the United States, one of which proved fatal.
Twelve of the attacks took place in Australia, where three proved fatal.
Meanwhile, Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa all had three bites and one death each in 2021, while New Caledonia reported two accidents, both of which were fatal.
Most of the bites were found to be related to surfing and board sports.
“Following recent trends, surfers and board sports players accounted for the majority of accidents (51% of total cases),” the Florida Museum said.
“This group spends a lot of time in the surf zone, an area commonly frequented by sharks, and can unwittingly attract sharks by splashing, paddling and ‘sweeping’.
“Swimmers and waders accounted for 39% of accidents, with the remaining accidents split between snorkelers / freedivers (4%) and body-surfers (6%).
While these statistics may sound alarming, the Florida Museum ensures that the risk of being bitten by a shark remains extremely low.
“Although the incidence of fatal bites in 2021 was higher than normal, we do not consider this cause for alarm,” he added.
“At present, there is no evidence that the recent increase in casualties is linked to natural phenomena.
“Rather it is probably the consequence of chance, a conclusion underlined by the fact that the number of unprovoked bites is in line with recent five-year trends.”
Last week, a snorkeler was left “screaming for help” after being begged by a shark off Cornwall in the first such attack in 175 years, in what the victim called a “very frightening accident” at sea. In the photo: a blue shark
Last week, a snorkeler was left “screaming for help” after being begged by a shark off Cornwall in the first such attack in 175 years, in what the victim called a “very frightening accident” at sea.
The woman – who has not been identified – was in Penzance, Cornwall, with Blue Shark Snorkel Trips when the incident occurred last Thursday.
The hapless adventurer was swimming around 15 miles offshore on the 180-pound-per-person hike when the unprovoked shark suddenly bit her leg.
The swimmer was rushed back to the rented boat where she was immediately given first aid and brought ashore for further treatment.
It is the first shark attack of its kind on a person in British waters since 1847. Several fishermen have been begging in recent years, but only after bringing the sea creatures aboard their ships.