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Man in Cape Cod killed in first fatal shark attack since 2015

The incident occurred shortly after 12 p.m. ET in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, making it the most recent fatal shark attack in the state since 1936.
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A man died after being attacked by a shark in Cape Cod on Saturday, Massachusetts police said.

The unidentified victim in his mid-20s succumbed to his injuries shortly after the attack and was pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, according to Wellfleet Police.

The incident occurred shortly after 12 p.m. ET, approximately 300 yards south of Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, making it the most recent fatal shark attack in the state since 1936 and in the U.S. since 2015.

This is the second recent attack in the area after Dr. William Lytton, 61, from New York, was left injured on Aug. 15 after encountering a shark at Truro beach.

According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) at the Florida Museum, there were 53 reported incidents of alleged shark-human interactions in the U.S in 2017, which is a slight decline from the prior year's number of 56 cases. There were no fatalities either year.

Florida has the most reported number of unprovoked shark attacks with 31, with South Carolina coming in second with 10 cases, and Massachusetts tied at fifth place with only one fatality last year.

America tops the list of countries with the highest rate of shark attacks, accounting for 60 percent of global incidents, according to ISAF's Annual Worldwide Shark Attack Summary.

The organization believes that the reason for increase in shark attacks is correlated to an increase in the human population, as well as an increased interest in water sports. In 2017, 59 percent of global attacks occurred while the victim was engaged in surfing or board-sports.

But for the Cape Cod area, this increase in attacks is new.

"Shark attacks don't happen as often, there has only just been a recent rise in incidents," Chris Hargrove, a special officer for Cape Cod National Seashore told NBC News. "There are more sharks because of the human population and because of the seal population, [which are] the main food source for great white sharks."

Local police have yet to confirm the type of shark involved in Saturday's incident.

Hargrove said that besides the two recent attacks, the last time this happened was in 2012.

"We’ve been pretty proactive about advocating to people about the shark attacks and contacting people to let them know how to stay shark smart," Hargove said on Saturday.

Newcomb Hollow Beach has been closed for swimming and the state police along with the Cape Cod District Attorney’s office are handling the investigation into the incident.