Why shark attacks could be on the rise around the world

Published: Monday, May 23, 2016 @ 1:05 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 @ 12:17 PM

Why Sharks are Attacking More People

Last year, 107 people in different parts of the world were bitten by sharks. Eight of those 107 people died.

While 107 may not seem like a large number when you are talking about a global issue, when it comes to shark and human interaction, that many "unprovoked" attacks mean it was a record-setting year.  

The  International Shark Attack File, the longest maintained database on worldwide shark attacks,  said it investigated 164 reports in 2015. The group classifies an "unprovoked attack" as an incident "where an attack on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the shark.”

>>Got a question about the news? See our explainers here 

A study released by the group blamed warmer waters and a jump in coastal population for the spike in numbers. The study said, in part:

 “As world population continues its upsurge and interest in aquatic recreation concurrently rises, we realistically should expect increases in the number of shark attacks and other aquatic recreation-related injuries …

“Shark populations are actually declining or holding at greatly reduced levels in many areas of the world as a result of over-fishing and habitat loss, theoretically reducing the opportunity for these shark-human interactions.

“However, year-to-year variability in local meteorological, oceanographic, and socioeconomic conditions also significantly influences the local abundance of sharks and humans in the water and, therefore, the odds of encountering one another.”

Let’s take a look at some numbers.

Are there really more attacks happening?

When you talk about shark bites, researchers say you have to look at the ratio, not the numbers. In other words, are more people bitten by sharks because more people (and maybe more sharks) are in the same water?

"More people are using the ocean now for recreation than ever before, so there is no doubt that we're putting more people in the water," Chris Lowe, professor in the Department of Biological Studies at California State University Long Beach told Men’s Journal last year.

"And while there isn't a lot of good scientific evidence for this yet, I think that some shark populations are increasing due to better fisheries management and improved water quality," he said. "You put more people in the water and add more sharks to coastal areas, you will have more shark-human related interactions."

Professor George Burgess, director of the University of Florida Program for Shark Research, told The Telegraph in a story about 2015's spike in shark bites that, “Unlike in the movies, it’s not usually a one cause and effect type of a situation. More often it’s a combination of factors that might have led to there being more sharks or more humans in the water, but this is clearly a situation where there is something going on.”

What are the odds?

How likely is it that you will be bitten by a shark? Not likely at all. A group of researchers at Stanford University compared records of shark bites with information about how people use the ocean in California.  The found that an ocean swimmer had only one chance in 738 million of being bitten by a great white shark; surfers had a one in 17 million chance, and scuba divers had a one in 136 million chance. 

Who do they attack?

Sharks will likely bite the person who acts like a fish or looks like a seal. If you appear to the shark as his normal food choice – by being on a surfboard, looking sort of seal-like, or splashing around like a fish  –  he’s more likely to go for it. Humans are generally not on his menu.  

Where do they attack?

The United States leads the world in unprovoked shark attacks. Florida leads the United States. While there are more shark bites in the United States, if you are bitten here you are more likely to survive the bite. The fatality rate for shark bites in the U.S. in 2014 was  1.7 percent. For the rest of the world, it was 12.8 percent.

Could we see an increase in shark bite incidents again this year?

We could. If current trends continue, the U.S. coastal regions will see population grow from 123 million people to nearly 134 million people by 2020, according to NOAA.  That doesn't include the millions who vacation on the coasts every year.

Who is most likely to get bitten – man or woman?

Sharks don’t seem to prefer the ladies as 90 percent of shark attack victims are men.  It’s the ratio thing in play again – traditionally more men are swimming, snorkeling and surfing – activities that expose you to the greatest risk for shark attacks. 

Which are sharks responsible for most human bites?

Three species are most responsible for human bites – the bull shark, the tiger shark and the great white shark.

How many sharks are killed each year by humans?

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, between 20 and 100 million sharks die each year due to fishing activity. 

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Delta Airlines bans pit bulls as support or service animals; ASPCA slams dog ‘stereotype’

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 10:36 PM
Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 5:00 PM

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

Update June 21, 4:55 p.m. EST: Matt Bershadker, CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), said Delta’s new policy banning pit bulls spreads “false and life-threatening stereotypes.”

“Every dog is unique, even dogs within the same breed, and their behavior is influenced by many factors,” Bershadker said in a Twitter statement. “Delta Airlines should resist unwarranted breed prejudice and rescind its breed ban.”

Original story: Delta Air Lines will limit each passenger to one emotional support animal and will prohibit pit bulls as service or support animals on flights, effective July 10.

>> Read more trending news

It’s a further tightening of the Atlanta-based airline’s policy on emotional support and service animals.

Delta said the latest policy changes are due to “growing safety concerns” after two employees were bitten by a passenger’s emotional support animal last week.

The incident occurred in Atlanta during boarding of a flight to Tokyo Narita, and one employee was medically treated on site, according to the airline. The passenger and animal were removed from the flight.

Delta said when the new policy takes effect it will no longer accept “pit bull type dogs” as service or support animals.

Delta said when the new policy takes effect it will no longer accept “pit bull type dogs” as service or support animals. (File photo)

The changes come after a Delta passenger was mauled by an emotional support dog on a flight last year.

Delta said it carries 700 service or support animals a day. Since 2016, the airline said it saw an 84 percent increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals, including urination or defecation and biting.

“Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, spiders and more,” Delta said. “Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs.”

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McDonald's offering free cold brew coffee to celebrate start of summer

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 10:26 AM

McDonald's is offering a free small Cold Brew Frozen Coffee or Cold Brew Frappe through its app June 21. (Photo by McDonald's)
McDonald's
McDonald's is offering a free small Cold Brew Frozen Coffee or Cold Brew Frappe through its app June 21. (Photo by McDonald's)(McDonald's)

McDonald’s is offering a new promotion to kick off the start of summer.

Customers who have the free McDonald’s app can get a free small McCafe Cold Brew Thursday. The new drinks are offered as a Cold Brew Frozen Coffee or Cold Brew Frappe. No purchase is needed to get the drink, but the offer may not be at every location.

>> Read more trending news 

According to a June 13 news release from the fast-food restaurant, the drinks are available on menus for a limited time.

In addition to a free cold brew coffee, participating McDonald’s locations are offering a Frylus -- a stylus in the shape of a fry -- to help customers take selfies without getting messy fingerprints on their phones. For more information on where to snag a Frylus, visit Frylus.com.

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Boy sick of eating salad calls 911 on parents -- twice

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 2:56 PM

Child Calls 911 After Parents Made Him Eat Salad

A 12-year-old boy decided he had enough and called 911 to report that his parents were forcing him to eat salad.

Police said he was so distressed that he called 911 twice, the CBC reports.

In the first call, the boy stated that one of his parents made a salad he didn’t like. Before police arrived, he called 911 again to see how much longer he would have to wait for a police officer, reiterating how much he disliked salad.

>> Read more trending news 

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police decided to give him a break and use this as a teaching moment for the family.

“While many can relate to the dislike of a salad at times, this raises a more important issue that warrants discussion at all ages,” Cpl. Dal Hutchison posted on Facebook. “The improper use of 911 is an issue with all age groups and it ties up valuable resources, preventing emergency first responders from dealing with real emergencies.”

When asked what type of salad it was, Hutchinson told the CBC, “Obviously one to his dislike, because he called 911.”

Hutchinson said the 12-year-old's parents "were not impressed" with what their son had done when police arrived at their door.

After a conversation with the family, officers decided not to fine the boy for misusing 911 emergency services. 

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Melania Trump wears 'I don't really care' jacket ahead of visit with detained child migrants

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 3:59 PM

Watch First lady Melania Trump Make Unannounced Visit to Child Migrant Detention Centers

First lady Melania Trump wore an olive green jacket with the words “I don’t really care, do u?” printed on it Thursday as she boarded a plane bound for Texas ahead of a tour of a migrant child detention center.

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A spokeswoman for the first lady said “there was no hidden message” in Trump’s choice.

“It’s a jacket,” the first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told BuzzFeed News after Trump’s trip. "After today's important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn't going to choose to focus on her wardrobe."

>> Photos: Melania Trump visits facilities for migrant children in Texas

Trump wore a different, pale yellow jacket later Thursday, when her plane landed in McAllen her visit to the Upbring New Hope Children’s Center, The Associated Press reported. The center is holding 55 children.

The jacket choice raised the eyebrows of some social media users, who questioned the optics of Trump wearing such a coat, considering the purpose of her trip.

Trump visited the Upbring New Hope Children’s Center and a border patrol processing center. Grisham told CNN the trip was planned because the first lady wanted “to see what’s real.”

>> First lady Melania Trump makes unannounced visit to child migrant detention center

"She wanted to see as close to what she had been seeing on TV,” Grisham said. “She wants to see a realistic view of what's happening."

>> Trump signs executive order ending migrant family separations 

The visit came one day after he husband signed an executive order ending the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from parents at the border. 

She previously said in a statement through Grisham that she “hates to see children separated from their families.”

"She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart," Grisham said, according to CNN.

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