Shark Attacks: The More You Know

Annually, roughly 80 unprovoked incidents involving a Shark attack occur. For all the fear and uncertainty surrounding sharks, of the 489 different species of the animal, only 3 single species can be truly credited with the murderous traits humans fear - Great White Sharks, Bull Sharks and Tiger Sharks.

With data provided from the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), we begin to get an understanding into the prevalence and likelihood of an attack. The following data is from years 1958 - 2018.

The United States (excluding Hawaii) is the most common place for an attack, with 1,104 attacks reported, 35 of which were fatalities. Australia faired second on the list, with a lesser but still concerning 536 reported attacks, which, shockingly, resulted in 73 fatalities. However Africa is considered the deadliest, with 94 fatalities resulting from 346 reported incidents, placing them third.

Ranking the sharks, Great Whites were the most likely to result in a fatality, followed by Tiger Sharks and lastly Bull Sharks.

The type of unprovoked attack is defined by three criteria:
1.) Hit and Run Attack: A shark moves in, bites the victim, then leaves the area. It is believed the majority of hit and run attacks are cases of mistaken identity, in that the shark mistakes a human for something more palatable like a seal.
2.) Sneak Attack: The most rare form of attack, the sneak attack, occurs when a shark exercises predatory behaviour. The intent is to kill and consume in this case, and the victim may sustain multiple bites.
3.) Bump and Bite Attack: Notoriously common with Great Whites, the bump and bite attack is when a shark circles their victim before bumping them, either off their surfboard or in the water, where it then attacks the victim. This attack is often exploratory, in that the shark is merely “testing” the victim to see if it likes the taste. The shark may or may not continue to attack, with many believing this decision to be based on the victims reaction, i.e. a flailing, panicking victim is more likely to be attacked again following the test bite.