Last week, a snorkeler continued to ‘cry for help’ after being bitten off the coast of Cornwall by a shark in the first attack of its kind in British waters in 175 years.
The woman – who has not been identified – was in Penzance, Cornwall, with Blue Shark Snorkel Trips when the accident happened last Tuesday.
While unprovoked shark attacks are extremely rare in the seas around the UK, they are much more common in other parts of the world.
The Florida Museum has a handy interactive map which allows you to explore the number of unprovoked shark attacks around the world.
It reveals that the US 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 created a helpful interactive map based on data from The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) that allows you to examine the number of unprovoked shark attacks around the world since 1900.
While unprovoked shark attacks are extremely rare in British waters, they are much more common in other parts of the world. Pictured: a great white shark
Countries with the most unprovoked shark attacks since 1580
- United States – 1,564
- Australia – 682
- South African Republic – 258
- Brazil – 110
- New Zealand – 56
- Papua New Guinea – 48
- Mascarene Islands – 47
- Mexico – 41
- Bahamas Islands – 33
- Iran – 23
The interactive map is based on data from The International Shark Attack File (ISAF).
“The (ISAF) is the world’s only scientifically documented, comprehensive database of all known shark attacks,” explains The Florida Museum on its website.
“Started in 1958, there are now more than 6,800 individual studies covering the period from the early 1500s to the present.”
A slider at the bottom of the map lets you change the date range from 1900 to 2021, while also using toggles to select certain shark species and whether or not the attacks were deadly.
You can then examine the number of unprovoked shark attacks around the world by drawing a box around the data points you are interested in.
According to the ISAF, there were 137 alleged interactions between sharks and humans in 2021.
This included 73 unprovoked bites — those in which a bite on a live human occurred in the shark’s natural habitat — and 39 provoked bites.
“Of the remaining 25 cases, four were bites on motorized or non-motorized marine vessels (“boat bites”) and one involved shark-induced post-mortem bites (“scavenge”), Florida Museum explains.
“Five cases were considered “questionable” or incidents likely not involving a shark.
“These included one case attributed to a stingray, three attributed to bony fish and one to injury associated with scraping against a rock.”
The map shows that the US is the shark attack hotspot of the world, with 1,563 unprovoked attacks since 1580, followed by Australia (682 attacks), South Africa (258 attacks) and Brazil (110 attacks)
In Europe, Greece is the area with the most shark attacks since 1847 (15), followed by Italy (13) and Spain (6). However, only three attacks have been recorded in British waters
Sharks found in British waters
Smooth hammerhead shark – North Atlantic Ocean 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
porbeagle – Most 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 US, one of which proved fatal.
Twelve of the attacks took place in Australia, three of which were fatal.
Meanwhile, Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa each had three bites and one fatality in 2021, while New Caledonia reported two incidents, both of which were fatal.
Most of the bites were found to be related to surfing and board sports.
According to recent trends, surfers and those who participate in board sports were responsible for the most incidents (51 percent of the total number of cases), according to Florida Museum.
‘This group spends a lot of time in the surf zone, an area frequently visited by sharks, and can inadvertently attract sharks by splashing, paddling and ‘exterminating’.
“Swimmers and waders were responsible for 39 percent of the incidents, while the remaining incidents were divided among snorkelers/free divers (4 percent) and body surfers (6 percent).”
While these statistics may sound alarming, Florida Museum reassures that the risk of being bitten by a shark remains extremely low.
“Although the incidence of fatal bites was higher than normal in 2021, we do not consider this cause for alarm,” it added.
“At this point, there is no evidence that the recent spike in fatalities is related to natural phenomena.
“It is more due to 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 continued to ‘shout for help’ after being bitten by a shark off the coast of Cornwall in the first attack of its kind in 175 years – in what the victim called a ‘very scary incident’ at sea. Pictured: a blue shark
Last week, a snorkeler continued to ‘shout for help’ after being bitten by a shark off the coast of Cornwall in the first attack of its kind in 175 years – in what the victim called a ‘very scary incident’ at sea.
The woman – who has not been identified – was in Penzance, Cornwall, with Blue Shark Snorkel Trips when the accident happened last Thursday.
The hapless adventurer had swum some 25 miles into the sea during the £180 per person excursion when the shark suddenly bit her leg.
The swimmer was rushed back to the chartered 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 bitten in recent years, but only after bringing the sea creatures aboard their ships.