Last weeka diver has been left ‘crying for help’ after being bitten by a shark off Cornwall in the first such attack in UK waters for 175 years.
The woman – who has not been identified – was in Penzance, Cornwall, with Blue Shark Snorkel Trips when the accident happened last Tuesday.
While unprovoked shark attacks are extremely rare in the seas around the UK, they are far more common in other parts of the world.
It reveals that the United States is the world’s shark attack hotspot, with 1,563 unprovoked attacks since 1580, followed by Australia (682 attacks), the Republic of South Africa (258 attacks) and of Brazil (110 attacks).
The Florida Museum has produced a handy interactive map based on data from The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) that lets you explore the number of unprovoked shark attacks around the world since 1900.
While unprovoked shark attacks are extremely rare in UK waters, they are far more common in other parts of the world. Pictured: a great white shark
Countries with the most unprovoked shark attacks since 1580
- UNITED STATES – 1,564
- Australia – 682
- Republic of South Africa – 258
- Brazil – 110
- New Zealand – 56
- Papua New Guinea – 48
- Mascarene Islands – 47
- Mexico – 41
- Bahamian he is – 33
- Iran – 23
The interactive map is based on data from The International Shark Attack File (ISAF).
“The (ISAF) is the world’s only comprehensive, scientifically documented database of all known shark attacks,” the Florida Museum explains on its website.
“Initiated in 1958, there are now over 6,800 individual investigations spanning the period from the early 1500s to the present day.”
A slider at the bottom of the map lets you change the date range from 1900 to 2021, while you can also use toggles to select certain shark species and whether the attacks were fatal or not.
You can then explore the number of unprovoked shark attacks around the world by drawing a box around the data points of interest.
In 2021, there were 137 suspected shark-human interactions worldwide, according to ISAF.
This included 73 unprovoked bites – those in which a bite on a living human occurred in the shark’s natural habitat – and 39 provoked bites.
“Of the remaining 25 cases, four involved bites from motorized or non-motorized marine vessels (“boat bites”) and one involved post-mortem bites inflicted by sharks (“recovery”),” explains the Florida Museum.
“Five cases were considered ‘questionable’ or incidents that probably did not involve a shark.
“These included one case attributed to a stingray, three attributed to bony fish and one to an injury associated with scratching against a rock.”
The map reveals that the United States is the hotspot for shark attacks worldwide, with 1,563 unprovoked attacks since 1580, followed by Australia (682 attacks), the Republic of South Africa (258 attacks ) and Brazil (110 attacks)
In Europe, Greece is the area with the most shark attacks since 1847 (15), followed by Italy (13) and Spain (6). However, there have only been three recorded attacks in UK waters
Sharks found in UK waters
Smooth hammerhead shark – North Atlantic off the western tip of Cornwall
blue shark – 10 miles off the south Cornish coast
thresher shark – Channel off Devon
Shortfin Mako Shark – Bristol Channel and off the coast of Wales
Porbeagle shark – More common on the south coast
basking shark – Sea of the Hebrides
Of the 73 unprovoked shark bites recorded last year, the vast majority (47) were recorded in the United States, one of which proved fatal.
Twelve of the attacks took place in Australia, where three proved fatal.
Meanwhile, Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa all had three bites and one death each in 2021, while New Caledonia reported two incidents, both fatal.
Most of the bites were related to surfing and board sports.
“Consistent with recent trends, surfers and those involved in board sports are responsible for most incidents (51% of total cases),” the Florida Museum said.
“This group spends a lot of time in the surf zone, an area commonly frequented by sharks, and may unwittingly attract sharks by splashing, paddling and ‘wiping’.
“Swimmers and waders accounted for 39% of incidents, with the remaining incidents split between snorkelers/freedivers (four percent) and body surfers (6%).
Although these statistics may seem alarming, the Florida Museum reassures that the risk of being bitten by a shark remains extremely low.
“Although the incidence of fatal bites in 2021 was higher than usual, we do not consider this cause alarming,” he added.
“At present, there is no evidence that the recent spike in deaths is linked to natural phenomena.
“It’s more of a fluke, a finding underscored by the fact that the number of unprovoked bites is consistent with recent five-year trends.”
Last week a diver was left ‘crying for help’ after being bitten by a shark off Cornwall in the first such attack in 175 years – in what the victim described as an ‘incident very scary’ at sea. Pictured: a blue shark
Last week a diver was left ‘crying for help’ after being bitten by a shark off Cornwall in the first such attack in 175 years – in what the victim described as an ‘incident very frightening” at sea.
The woman – who has not been identified – was in Penzance, Cornwall, with Blue Shark Snorkel Trips when the accident happened last Thursday.
The unlucky adventurer had swum around 15 miles offshore on the £180pp excursion when the shark, unprovoked, suddenly bit his leg.
The swimmer was rushed back to the chartered boat where she received immediate first aid and was brought ashore for further treatment.
It is the first such shark attack on a person in British waters since 1847. Several fishermen have been bitten in recent years, but only after bringing the sea creatures aboard their vessels.