How common are fatal shark attacks?
Multiple shark attacks have been reported off Long Island over the past few days, with at least four people bitten in the last week.
At least four people said to have been attacked as Long Island has seen an unexpected rise in the number or shark attacks over the past few days, with up to 50 Sand Tiger sharks spotted off the coast.
One beach in Long Island was even closed temporarily until drones monitoring the situation gave the all clear for holiday-makers to enter the water. The July 3 and 4 attacks were reported along Fire Island, a 32-mile-long barrier island, and resulted in non-life-threatening injuries; the last time something similar happened was back in the summer of 2022, attacks which were attributed to conservation success by Stonybrook University. The uptick in incidents could also be due to an abudance of food: Sand Tiger sharks do not normally attack humans, and generally only cause injuries by mistake when chasing fish.
Who was attacked by sharks in Long Island?
The first attack was on a girl at Robert Moses State Park, who sustained puncture wounds in her leg; she herself could not determine what caused the injury and it was not confirmed. The second incident occurred in Kismet Beach on a young boy who was surfing, who suffered non-threatening damage to his heel and toes.
Despite the shocking news, officials urge people to be calm and not to wear shiny jewellery or clothes with contrasting colours, two things which can both be picked out easily by the sharks’ senses.
Shark attacks have closed beaches across the world
It is the biggest spike in shark attack news since British man was killed after a shark attack in February while swimming off the coast of Sydney, Australia, something that hadn’t happened in over half a century.
Back in February, several Sydney beaches, including the iconic Bondi and Bronte, were shut down after the attack, the first such fatality at the city’s beaches in nearly 60 years. Drum lines, which are used to bait sharks, were set up near the attack site while drones were deployed as officials searched to see if the shark was still in the area.
The victim was identified as 35-year-old British expat diving instructor, Simon Nellist, who had been training for a charity swim. The attack took place at Buchan Point, near Little Bay, to the southeast of Sydney. His remains, along with his ripped wetsuit, were found in the water an hour later. Nellist was engaged to be married to his Australian girlfriend.
“This has been a complete shock for our community,” Dylan Parker, the mayor of Randwick Council which includes Little Bay, told Reuters. “Our coastline is our backyard and to have a tragic death under such horrifying circumstances is completely shocking.”
How many shark attacks are there annually?
Globally, following three years of decline, attacks by sharks increased in 2021. That said, researchers have pointed to the fact that covid-19 restrictions to activity and tourism were likely part of the explanation for that uplift.
In the United States, which accounts for most attacks, Florida saw more than a third of unprovoked bites worldwide. A report by the Florida Museum of Natural History and the American Elasmobranch Society, in the International Shark Attack File recorded 73 unprovoked incidents in 2021, up 21 on the previous year. The five year global average is 72, suggesting that we have returned to the recent norm.
The University of Florida said that there were 108 alleged shark-human interactions worldwide in 2022, with just 6 of them proving fatal, and that rate is now decreasing. Florida itself had 16 ‘unprovoked bites’ in 2022, 28% of the world’s total.