Record 98 shark attacks worldwide in 2015

February 10, 2016
The United States was the leading country for shark attacks by far in 2015 with 59, followed by Australia (18) and South Africa
The United States was the leading country for shark attacks by far in 2015 with 59, followed by Australia (18) and South Africa (8)

A record of 98 shark attacks took place worldwide last year, the highest number ever recorded, a US university said Tuesday, citing warmer waters and more beachgoers as possible explanations.

However, only six of those attacks were fatal, which is the average number over the past decade, said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida, which has been collecting data since 1958.

"The number of attacks we had last year was the highest we've ever recorded," he told AFP.

But "your chances of dying last year in fact were less, because there were more attacks," he said.

The United States was the leading country for by far with 59, followed by Australia (18) and South Africa (8).

Of the US attacks, 30 occurred in the southeastern state of Florida, while Hawaii saw the only shark-related death.

Increasing attacks could be due to rising water temperatures caused by climate change, which has led the to venture further north and south, Burgess said.

And last year, the El Nino weather pattern created warm ocean water, which always draws more humans to the beach.

"All put together with the fact that the human population continues to rise every year... one could predict that in theory each year we should have more attacks than the last," Burgess said.

The previous record was set in 2000, with 88 attacks.

Of the six deaths in 2015, two occurred on the French island of Reunion, with one each in Australia, Egypt, New Caledonia and the United States.

"When people ask where is the most deadly place right now, it is Reunion," Burgess said.

Over the last five years, there have been seven shark-related deaths and 18 attacks there, which Burgess called an extremely high mortality rate.

Death by shark is a relatively rare occurrence, according to the International Shark Attack File, which reports that more people die from lightning, bike accidents and by bears.

Explore further: Shark attack deaths down in 2014

Related Stories

Shark attack deaths down in 2014

February 12, 2015

Three people died worldwide from shark attacks last year, far below the average of 6.3 deaths per year over the past decade, according to the International Shark Attack File report released by the University of Florida today.

Humans blamed as shark attacks 'double'

February 13, 2012

Sharks killed twice as many swimmers and surfers last year than in 2010, with the increase due largely to a growth in tourism and changing shark patterns due to global warming.

A factor in shark attack increase: More people in water

June 17, 2015

Federal wildlife protections are helping sharks rebound, but they aren't the sole reason for the uptick in encounters between sharks and humans. Expanding human populations and growing use of beaches are major factors too, ...

2012 US shark attacks highest since 2000

February 11, 2013

Shark attacks in the U.S. reached a decade high in 2012, while worldwide fatalities remained average, according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File report released today.

Research questions whether shark control programs work

February 9, 2016

New research from Deakin University has questioned the assumption that shark control programs designed to reduce the numbers of shark attacks on NSW and southern African beaches actually work.            

Recommended for you

Study shows mixed fortunes for Signy penguins

October 27, 2016

A forty year study on a remote Antarctic island shows that while populations of two penguin species are declining, a third is increasing. Analysis of census data from Signy Island in the South Orkney Islands reveals that, ...

How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants

October 27, 2016

A newly discovered protein from a fungus is able to suppress the innate immune system of plants. This has been reported by research teams from Cologne and Würzburg in the journal Nature Communications.

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

October 27, 2016

A group coordinated by SISSA Trieste has built a 3-D computer model of the human genome. The shape of DNA (and its sequence) affects biological processes and is crucial for understanding its function. The study has provided ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Feb 10, 2016
What climate rubbish. Attacks are up because the economy is better vacations are more common and so is going in the ocean. It's the same reason shark attacks became more common around the turn of the century, when people began ocean swimming as recreation.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.