Shark Bite Statistics
Although shark bites around the world are extremely rare, the fact is that they still do occur and that the number of shark bites is on the rise. 2015 saw the most unprovoked shark attacks ever recorded, 98, compared to the previous record of 88 unprovoked shark attaks in 2000. (Interestingly, in 2015 there were half the number of deaths (six) compared to 11 deaths in 2000.
So what is the reason for this increase in the number of unprovoked shark attacks? Two main reasons can explain this increase.
- More people in the water for longer periods of time is likely the main reason for this increase in shark attacks. As the world population increases and the interest in marine recreational activities also increases, it is safe to presume that we will see an increase in human-shark interactions.
- The International Shark Attack File (ISAF), held at the Florida Museum of Natural History, has "the longest running database on shark attacks, has a long-term scientifically documented database containing information on all known shark attacks, and is the only globally-comprehensive, scientific shark attack database in the world." Over the past three decades their efficiency in discovering and investigating attacks has greatly improved, which could add to an increase in the number of attacks purely because they are now documented when previously they might have been missed - particularly attacks in remote locations with poor access to communication networks. Advances in various electronic communication modes has enabled the expansion of the ISAF scientific observers as well as the reporting of human-shark interactions around the world.
Globally the great white shark has been responsible for more attacks than any other species of shark. Last year (2015) saw the highest number of unprovoked shark attacks ever recorded in a single year – 98 attacks, with only 6 deaths.
Although shark attacks occur throughout the world, there are three main hotspots where they occur - the USA, Australia and South Africa. The below map illustrates the top 10 countries with the highest number of shark attacks. For a more detailed map you can visit the International Shark Attack File's Map of World's Confirmed Unprovoked Attacks.
SOUTH AFRICA STATS
Since records started for South Africa in 1905, there have been a total of 248 unprovoked attacks in South Africa. Of these most of them (103) have occurred in the Eastern Cape, 90 in KZN and 55 in the Western Cape.
There are three species of shark in South Africa which are responsible for the majority of attacks - tiger, bull (or Zambezi) and white sharks.
CAPE TOWN STATS
Narrowing it further down to the Cape Peninsula, the first fatalities were recorded at Seaforth and Simonstown in 1900 and 1901. Since 1960 however, only 28 attacks have occurred on the Cape Peninsula. That is roughly one attack every two years. Of these 28 attacks on the peninsula, a high percentage have been on spearfishers and and surfers. Seven of these last 28 attacks have proved to be fatal.