Shark attack deaths up worldwide

Feb. 8, 2012 at 5:49 PM
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GAINESVILLE, Fla., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- While shark attacks in the United States declined in 2011, worldwide fatalities reached a two-decade high, an International Shark Attack File report says.

The report prepared by the University of Florida said that while the United States, including Florida, experienced a five-year trend of fewer reported unprovoked attacks, 12 fatalities in the rest of the world suggest more tourists are traveling to more remote locations.

"We had a number of fatalities in essentially out-of the way places, where there's not the same quantity and quality of medical attention readily available." ichthyologist George Burgess said in a UF release Tuesday.

"They also don't have histories of shark attacks in these regions, so there are not contingency plans in effect like there are in places such as Florida," he said.

There were 75 attacks reported worldwide, close to the decade average, but the number of fatalities doubled compared with 2010, he said.

Fatalities were reported in Australia (3), Reunion (2), the Seychelles (2) and South Africa (2), with one each in Costa Rica, Kenya and New Caledonia, the report said.

"We've had a decade-long decline in the number of attacks and a continued decline in the fatality rate in the U.S.," Burgess said. "But last year's slight increase in non-U.S. attacks resulted in a higher death rate. One in four people who were attacked outside the U.S. died."

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