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Florida led the world in shark assaults once more in 2020

Last 12 months, the US reported 33 unprovoked shark assaults, accounting for about 58% of the overall variety of unprovoked shark assaults that occurred worldwide, in accordance with the Yearly World Shark Attack Summary from the International Shark Attack File (ISAF).

This is a lower from 2019, when 64% of the worldwide unprovoked bites occurred within the US.

ISAF categorizes shark assaults by first deciding in the event that they had been provoked or unprovoked.

“Unprovoked attacks are defined as incidents in which an attack on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the shark,” ISAF stated.

“Provoked attacks occur when a human initiates interaction with a shark in some way. These include instances when divers are bitten after harassing or trying to touch sharks, bites on spearfishers, bites on people attempting to feed sharks, bites occurring while unhooking or removing a shark from a fishing net and so forth.”

ISAF stated it investigated 129 alleged shark-human interactions worldwide in 2020 — 57 had been unprovoked shark bites on people, and 39 had been provoked bites.

Of the 33 unprovoked shark assaults within the US, 16 of them had been in Florida. The state’s 16 instances symbolize 28% of unprovoked bites worldwide.

“For decades, Florida has topped global charts in the number of shark bites, and this trend continued in 2020,” ISAF stated in its abstract. “However, the state saw a significant drop from its most recent five-year annual average of 30 incidents.”

Eight of the shark bites in Florida, or 50% of the state’s complete in 2020, occurred in Volusia County, in accordance with the ISAF.

How the pandemic impacted shark assault reporting course of

ISAF stated that whereas the incidence of bites each within the US and globally have been declining over time, “2020’s numbers represent a more drastic drop than would be expected.”

Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark analysis program, stated that Covid-19’s affect was one thing he and his colleagues speculated about again in March.

According to Naylor, the pandemic hasn’t essentially brought on a drop in instances — however it has impacted researchers’ capacity to follow-up and make sure instances when they’re reported.

“We typically talk to emergency room doctors and nurses to create our reports,” Naylor stated. “However, they’ve been so overwhelmed with the Covid-19 response that they haven’t always had time to talk to a bunch of scientists that are asking detailed questions about a shark attack.”

Based on its analysis within the final 12 months, ISAF stated the “observed drop in shark bite incidents may have been caused by the widespread quarantines, closed beaches and minimized vacation travel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Spike in shark-related fatalities reported worldwide

There had been 13 shark-related fatalities this 12 months, 10 of which had been confirmed to be unprovoked, ISAF stated in its Yearly Worldwide Shark Attack Summary.

“This number is above the annual global average of four unprovoked fatalities per year,” ISAF wrote.

But, “despite 2020’s spike in fatalities, long-term trends show a decreasing number of annual fatalities. Year-to-year variability in oceanographic, socioeconomic and meteorological conditions significantly influences the local abundance of sharks and humans in the water.”

Of the worldwide fatalities, Australia noticed “a higher incidence of fatal bites than normal in 2020,” ISAF stated. The nation had six confirmed deadly shark assaults.

“Australians are not naive when it comes to the inherent dangers of surfing and swimming,” Naylor stated. “So I was surprised that the number was as high as it was this year.”

How to survive a shark attack

Meanwhile, within the US, there have been three confirmed deadly shark assaults final 12 months. This is a rise from 2019, when there weren’t any confirmed instances within the US.

The three deadly assaults occurred in Hawaii, California and Maine. Although Florida is normally house to a lot of the unprovoked assaults, the state did not have any confirmed fatalities final 12 months.

How to keep away from a shark assault

Most bites — 61% of the overall instances in 2020 — had been associated to browsing and board sports activities, ISAF stated.

But don’t be concerned: “Short-term trends still show both fatal and non-fatal bites to be decreasing,” ISAF stated.

“The total number of unprovoked shark bites worldwide is extremely low, given the number of people participating in aquatic recreation each year.”

Should you end up within the sea, ISAF stated there are lots of methods to keep away from a shark assault.

ISAF encourages folks “avoid being in the water during darkness or twilight hours when sharks are most active and have a competitive sensory advantage.”

The group additionally urges folks to not enter the water if they’re bleeding, as a result of “a shark’s olfactory ability is acute.”

Shiny jewellery may also entice sharks, as “the reflected light resembles the sheen of fish scales.”

ISAF additionally inspired folks to keep away from sporting brilliant swimwear or dive gear, as a result of “any high contrast color apparel or gear used by a human in the water is especially visible to sharks.”

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