Lifestyle & Belief

Shark attacks hit 12-year high in US, with Florida worst for ocean lovers (VIDEO)


Posters are seen during JawsFest: The Tribute, a festival celebrating the film Jaws, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard on August 11, 2012 in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts.


Mario Tama

Shark attacks have hit a 12-year high in the US, with Florida by far the most dangerous state to go in the water.

The International Shark Attack File survey reports that America also leads the world in shark attacks, with the 53 attacks in 2012 equaling the number in 2000, and well up from 2011, when there were 31 attacks. 

The ISAF — part of the Florida Museum of Natural History — investigated 118 alleged incidents of shark-human interaction worldwide, and confirmed that 80 were unprovoked shark attacks.

Of the attacks in the US, 26 occurred in Florida, 10 in Hawaii, five in California, five in South Carolina, two in North Carolina, and one each in Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Puerto Rico.

Of the 26 people bitten in Florida, according to, eight were in Brevard County - home of Melbourne, Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. 

The ISAF defines "unprovoked attacks" as any attack on a human by a shark in its natural habitat without human provocation.

Only one US attack — in California — was fatal, according to USA Today, giving the US a fatality rate of less than 2 percent compared with a rate of 22.2 percent for the rest of the world. 

The report cites greater safety and medical capacity in the US.

The film "Jaws," primarily shot in Martha’s Vineyard, has been blamed for villifying sharks, particularly great white sharks.

A man was bitten by a great white shark in mid-2012 along the shoreline of nearby Cape Cod, with an increase in the seal population behind increased shark sightings, including great whites.

However, overall the report notes that "such marked year-to-year jumps and drops in shark-human interactions ... are not unusual as a plethora of oceanographic, meteorological, economic and human social variables affect the opportunity for humans and sharks to cross paths in a given year."

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