Shark attacks increased in 2021 following three years of decline, Florida scientists say

Scientists say there were 73 unprovoked attacks in 2021

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 25 January 2022 15:55

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Shark attacks increased around the world in 2021 after three years of decline, researchers have said.

There were 73 unprovoked global shark attacks last year, compared to 52 bites in 2020, observers at the International Shark Attack File said.

But the numbers could look more dramatic than they are because of the widespread beach closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the scientists said.

International Shark Attack File manager Tyler Bowling said that the number of bites in 2020 were the lowest recorded in a decade, and that the 73 seen in 2021 was almost the same as the five-year worldwide average of 72.

“Shark bites dropped drastically in 2020 due to the pandemic,” Mr Bowling said in a statement. “This past year was much more typical, with average bite numbers from an assortment of species and fatalities from white sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks.”

There were a total of 11 shark-related fatalities in 2021, and nine of those were considered unprovoked.

Australia led the way with three unprovoked deaths, New Caledonia had two, while the United States, Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa each had a single unprovoked fatal shark attack.

Experts said that an unprovoked attack is one where there is no human provocation, while a provoked attack is when a human initiates contact with the shark, such as a fisherman removing one from a net.

Florida again was the global hotspot for unprovoked shark bites, with 28 in 2021, compared to 19 others in the rest of the US, and 26 elsewhere around the world.

Over the last five years, Florida has averaged 25 attacks. In 2021, as many as 17 of the 28 unprovoked shark bites took place in Volusia County, where Daytona Beach is located.

The only fatal US shark attack in 2021 happened on 24 December, when a man was killed while bodyboarding in Morro Bay, California.

The research is administered by the Florida Museum of Natural History and the American Elasmobranch Society.

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