But if you think shark attacks are only limited to remote and isolated islands, you’d be surprised to know that the US has seen more unprovoked shark attacks than any other country, by far, and many of these attacks happen near crowded beaches.
Where the most shark attacks occur in the US
Since the 16th century, 1,604 unprovoked shark attacks have been reported in the US, according to the International Shark Attack File.
That’s more than double the number of shark attacks in Australia, which holds the second-highest number of attacks at 691.
And the majority of these US attacks took place in Florida, which is also known as the shark bite capital of the world.
However, Florida isn’t the only coastal state in America where shark attacks happen. Here’s a list of the US states with the most unprovoked shark attacks since 1837:
Florida912Hawaii187California136South Carolina115North Carolina78Texas45Oregon29New York20Georgia17New Jersey15Alabama10Massachusetts6
Other states, including Virginia, Louisiana, Delaware, and half a dozen more recorded between one and five attacks in the same time period.
Why does Florida have the most shark attacks?
“Shark attacks occur most frequently in areas where there are both a lot of people and sharks,” Peter Sorensen, a professor in the Department of Fisheries at the University of Minnesota, told Insider.
According to the Florida Department of Environment Protection, about 19 million tourists visit the state every year just to spend time at its beaches and enjoy water sports.
Hawaii and California, which rank second and third on the list of most shark attacks in the US, respectively, also have a large shark population and are famous for their beaches and water sports.
Beachside activities like surfing, rafting, and diving take beachgoers farther out from the shoreline into deeper water, which may also significantly contribute to shark attacks. One study found that about 46% (50 out of 108) of shark attack victims on the Pacific coast were divers and 38% (41 out of 108) were surfers.
Though it’s worth noting that your chances of dying by shark attack are very low — lower than death from a lightning strike.
James Sulikowski, director of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, told AP News: “We are intruders in their environment. We can be safe and logical about it and stay away from areas where sharks will be feeding. When an interaction occurs, it’s mistaken identity — we are in an area where a shark is looking to eat.”
Months when sharks attack the most
The frequency of shark attacks “in the US is high in the summer months. Why? Primarily because people go to the beaches more in the summer than in the winter,” Gavin Naylor, director at the Florida Program for Shark Research, told Insider.
Shark experts from the University of Florida also confirm that attacks are on the rise between May and October, and reach their peak in August. This is also the typical time when sharks migrate and people in the US are enjoying their summer holidays.
Humans kill millions of sharks each year
That’s minuscule compared to how many sharks humans kill each year.
“Shark attacks are rare and it is extremely rare for people to be eaten when they occur,” Sorensen said. “Most attacks are simply instances in which people startle sharks.”
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