Florida is #1 in 2012 for shark attacks - WFLA News Channel 8

Florida is #1 in 2012 for shark attacks

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

A Researcher at the University of Florida claims shark attacks in the United States were at a ten-year high in 2012.  However, according to the UF International Shark Attack File report released Monday, US fatalities remained below average compared to other parts of the world.

The U.S. experienced an up tick of attacks with 53, the most since 2000. Worldwide fatalities for that year totaled seven which was lower than 2011 but higher than the annual average of 4.4 registered from 2001-2010. George Bugress, director of the Shark Attack File says, "What I've seen in all situations when there's been a sudden upswing in an area is that human-causative factors are involved, such as changes in our behavior, changes in our abundance, or an overt shark-attracting product of something that we're doing."

Florida led the country with 26 attacks, followed by Hawaii, California, South Carolina, North Carolina and one each in Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Puerto Rico. One fatality occurred in California, and Hawaii had the highest number of attacks since seven in 2007, more than its yearly average of four. Most incidents in Florida occurred in Brevard (8) and Volusia (7) counties because these central east coast beaches are high aquatic recreation areas, especially for surfers, Burgess said.

The 2012 U.S. fatality rate of 2 percent is far lower than the 22 percent for the rest of the world, likely due to superior safety and medical capabilities in the U.S., Burgess said.

"We could reduce risks by avoiding areas and times when sharks are most common, and where danger is at its highest," Burgess said. "A perfect example of that is in Western Australia, where people have been getting hit in areas of known white shark abundance at times of year when white shark numbers are at their highest - the responsibility is upon us, as humans, to avoid such situations or else pay the consequence."

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