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By The Numbers: How Common Are Shark Attacks?

by Polly DeFrank /  / Updated 

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Just in time for summer, a pair of shark attacks in North Carolina has turned wary eyes to the ocean, where dozens of people are bitten — but very few die — every year.

Data appear to show a steady uptick in attacks. But the rise reflects better reporting and an increase in the number of people involved in water activities, so there may not be an increase in the attack rate.

These figures reflect what are classified as unprovoked attacks, meaning they happened in the ocean and without human provocation. They exclude attacks in which a human initiates contact, such as a diver grabbing a shark, and attacks in public aquariums and research pens.

72

The number of reported attacks on humans around the world in 2014, according to research by The International Shark Attack File. That was three fewer than in 2013.

52

The number of unprovoked shark attacks in the United States in 2014 — the most of any single country. That's up from 47 in 2013, but fewer than the 54 in 2012.\

3

The number of people killed in shark attacks worldwide in 2014. Two were in Australia and one was in South Africa.

0

The number of people killed in U.S. shark attacks in 2014.

28

The number of attacks in Florida in 2014, 54 percent of that year's U.S. total. The most frequent area of attacks was Volusia County, on the central Atlantic coast, where there were 10. The rate of encounters there is attributable to the attractiveness of the county's beaches and waters, particularly among surfers, and its diversity of marine fauna.

65

The percentage of 2014 shark attack victims who were surfing, the largest proportion of any activity.

32

The percentage of 2014 shark attack victims who were swimming or wading.

3

The percentage of 2014 shark attack victims who were snorkeling.

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