Shark attacks have been making the news quite a bit this summer and have some beachgoers on edge, but an examination of nearly two centuries of records show attacks are very rare.
Since the end of May, there have been about 10 shark sightings or attacks in New York and New Jersey. Attacks are exceedingly rare in that part of the country. Since 1837, there have only been 15 unprovoked shark attacks reported in New Jersey and 12 in New York, according to the Florida Museum’s International Shark Attack File.
More than 180 years of data in the file showed that most unprovoked shark attacks in the U.S. have been reported in Florida – 896.
In a far second is Hawaii, where 182 unprovoked attacks have been reported.
California and the Carolinas round out the top five.
Shark attack trends
In the past nine years, less than 60 shark bites have been reported each year in the U.S., according to the file. Overall, the coast-to-coast trend during that time has declined, but there was a noticeable increase in bites in 2021.
According to the data, most bites are not fatal, with just eight fatal bites in the past nine years.
In Florida, where most U.S. shark attacks have been reported, no fatalities have occurred. The state averages about 29 shark bites a year.
According to the Florida Museum’s International Shark Attack File, the U.S. has reported 1,563 unprovoked shark attacks since 1580 – the most of any country in the world.
Australia comes in second with 682 attacks reported in the past 441 years.
South Africa, Brazil and New Zealand finish the top five with 258, 110 and 56 attacks, respectively.
Risk of death
The risk of dying from a shark attack is extremely low with odds of 1 in 3.75 million, according to data from the University of Florida, National Safety Council and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A person has better odds of drowning (1 in 1,134) or dying from a lightning strike (1 in 156,169) than being killed by a shark.
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