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2012 Ties Worst Year for US Shark Incidents

In 2012, shark incidents in U.S. waters tied the record  of 53 unprovoked incidents, set in 2000. Florida had the most with 26 bites. The recently released University of Florida International Shark Attack File listed a global total of 80 unprovoked ‘attacks’. Seven of those encounters proved fatal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The concept of ‘let’s go out and kill them’ is an archaic approach to a shark attack problem, and its opportunities for success are generally slim-to-none,” George Burgess director of the International Shark Attack File program said in a press release. “It’s mostly a feel-good revenge – like an ‘eye for an eye’ approach – when in fact you’re not likely to catch the shark that was involved in the situation. The shark that was involved in the situation also isn’t necessarily likely to do it again.”

 When writing this post, we have deliberately changed the word ‘attacks’ into ‘incidents’.

What is a ‘shark  attack’? What is ‘unprovoked’? We need to redefine our definitions. People are in the way of sharks, but not on the menu. The number of shark incidents is higher, but so is the number of recreational water users: people are in the water more often and much longer.  We do deliberately enter the habitat of a wild creature, just like we would when we would go out for a stroll through a wildlife reserve in Africa. Appropiate behavior in water can drastically reduce are chances of ever being bitten by a shark (see also http://christopherneff.com/the-conversation/).

The term “shark attack” is typically used by the media, government officials, researchers and the public to describe almost any kind of human-shark interaction — even those where no contact or injury occurs between humans and sharks.

Social scientist, Christopher Neff of the University of Sydney, Australia, and Dr. Robert Hueter, leader of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research in Sarasota, Fla. — the only Congressionally designated national research center in the U.S. focused on sharks — propose a new system of classification to support more accurate scientific reporting about shark interactions, along with more accurate public discussion about shark risk to swimmers and divers.

The international study, published this week in the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, istitled, “Science, policy, and the public discourse of shark ‘attack’: a proposal for reclassifying human–shark interactions.” A free download of the article is available at: http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13412-013-0107-2

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