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Australia becomes the shark attack capital of the world – but experts say we SHOULDN’T be worried

Australia is declared the shark attack capital of the world – but experts say beachgoers SHOULDN’T be alarmed

  • Twelve fatal shark attacks were recorded across the globe in 2020, report says
  • Australia accounted for eight of those, three in WA, three in QLD and two in NSW 
  • ‘Unprovoked’ maulings worldwide fell for the third consecutive year to 57 

Australia has been declared the shark attack capital of the world, but experts say beachgoers shouldn’t be concerned. 

Twelve fatal shark attacks were recorded across the globe in 2020, according to a new report released by the University of Florida‘s Shark Attack File (ISAF).  

Australia accounted for eight of those, with three people killed in Western Australia, three in Queensland and two in New South Wales.  

2020 was the deadliest year for shark attacks since 2013, with 12 shark bites leading to a fatality (pictured: stock image of great white shark) 

Director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark research program Gavin Naylor said the figures were surprising, but not alarming.  

‘Australians are not naive when it comes to the inherent dangers of surfing and swimming,’ he said.  

‘So I was surprised that the number was as high as it was this year.’

‘Unprovoked’ maulings worldwide fell for the third consecutive year to 57 – down from 64 in 2019 – but 2020 was the deadliest year since 2013.

Australia’s eight fatalities almost topped the 90-year-old record of nine deaths in a year.  

But Mr Naylor said the spike in fatalities should not deter beachgoers. 

‘It’s a dramatic spike, but it’s not yet cause for alarm,’ he said. 

Australia has been named the shark capital of the world after eight deaths from a shark attack were recorded last year (pictured: beachgoers at Surfers Paradise in Queensland)

Australia has been named the shark capital of the world after eight deaths from a shark attack were recorded last year (pictured: beachgoers at Surfers Paradise in Queensland) 

‘We expect some year-to-year variability in bite numbers and fatalities. One year does not make a trend.

‘The total number of unprovoked shark bites worldwide is extremely low, given the number of people participating in aquatic recreation each year.’  

The ISAF found great white sharks were responsible for 16 unprovoked attacks worldwide – and accounted for four fatalities in Australia. 

Tiger sharks bites were responsible for two deaths. 

But Mr Naylor said there is no evidence sharks are hunting humans.  

‘We need to focus on long-term trends and rigorous scientific study, rather than speculation,’ he said.

Mr Naylor said most bites to surfers or beachgoers resulted from shark’s mistaking swimmers for seals or fish.  

‘I think the frequency of white sharks swimming in the same places as humans may be on the rise, but if so, we don’t yet know the cause,’ he said. 

The ISAF found that the most common shark involved in 16 unprovoked attacks was the great white shark (pictured: stock of a great white shark)

The ISAF found that the most common shark involved in 16 unprovoked attacks was the great white shark

THE EIGHT FATAL SHARK ATTACKS IN AUSTRALIA IN 2020 

January 5: Diver Gary Johnson, 57, was killed by a great white shark while diving with his wife near Esperance in WA

April 6: Wildlife ranger Zachary Robba, 23, was mauled to death by a shark while swimming off the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland 

June 7: Surfer Rob Pedretti, 60, was killed by a great white shark while he was boarding at Salt Beach near Kingscliff in far northern NSW

July 4: Spearfisher Matthew Tratt, 36, was mauled to death by a suspected great white shark in a ‘provoked’ attack on Fraser Island in Queensland

July 11: Surfer Mani Hart-Deville, 15, was boarding when he was killed by a suspected great white shark at Wooli Beach, near Grafton on the NSW North Coast

September 8: Surfer Nick Slater, 46, was mauled to death by a suspected great white at Greenmount Beach on the Gold Coast

October 9: Father-of-two Andrew Sharpe was killed by a shark while surfing at Kelp Beds in Wylie Bay, near Esperance on WA’s south coast

November 22, Cable Beach, WA: Charles Cernobori, 59, who worked at a Cable Beach hotel was killed by a 4m suspected tiger shark while bodyboarding 2km north of the main tourist section 

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