2015 was a record year that no one wants to break since it is the year with the most shark attacks in a single year. According to the International Shark Attack File housed at the University of Florida, there were 98 shark attacks, including six fatalities last year.
As the summer beach season opens in the United States, the shark season starts. A boy was seriously injured when he was attacked by a shark as he swam in chest-deep Florida waters. In what officials said was the first shark attack of the season at Neptune Beach, the 13-year-old boy and his stepfather were swimming when the child was bitten about 3 p.m. Sunday.
“The U.S. led the world in attacks last year with 59, driven by an abundance of coastline with an ever-growing number of swimmers, surfers and divers in the water,” said George Burgess, curator of the world’s clearinghouse of shark-attack data housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. As usual, Australia and South Africa rounded out the top three, with 18 and 8 attacks, respectively.
Within the U.S., Florida had the most attacks with 30, followed by North and South Carolina with eight each. Hawaii saw seven attacks and the country’s only fatality, with the remaining incidents occurring in California, Texas, Mississippi and New York.
The New York attack brings to light another factor in the increase in attacks: warming ocean waters. Ocean temperatures that spike earlier in the season and warm a larger range of coastline draw both sharks and humans to the same waters, Burgess said.
“We can and should expect the number of attacks to be higher each year,” he said. “When we visit the sea, we’re on their turf.”