Thursday, February 15, 2007

Florida tops number of shark attacks again

Florida remained the shark attack capital of the world in 2006, when a total of 62 "unprovoked" attacks were recorded worldwide, four of them fatal, the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) said in its latest report. As in recent years, the majority of the attacks -- 38 attacks or 58 percent -- were recorded in US waters, mostly in Florida, where 23 people were attacked by sharks last year, up from 19 in 2005.Elsewhere, attacks occurred in Australia (seven), South Africa (four), Brazil (three), and the Bahamas (two), with single incidents reported in Fiji, Guam, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, La Reunion, Spain and Tonga, the ISAF group at the University of Florida said in its annual report.In addition, the group recorded 16 "provoked" attacks. Single fatalities were recorded in Australia, Brazil, La Reunion, and Tonga.The 2006 yearly total of 62 unprovoked attacks was just one up from the previous year and continued a five year decline since 79 attacks in 2000, ISAF said, adding however that "the number of unprovoked shark attacks has grown at a steady rate over the past century.""The growth in shark attack numbers does not necessarily mean there is an increase in rate of shark attack, rather it most likely is reflective of the ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans," ISAF said.ISAF distinguishes between unprovoked and provoked attacks, saying the latter include incidents involving sharks and divers in aquaria or research holding-pens, fishermen bitten while removing a shark from a net or divers feeding the sharks.

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