US Shark Attacks At 10-Year High In 2012

Shark Attacks were at a ten-year high in the U.S. in 2012Researchers at the University of Florida report that 2012 was a banner year in terms of shark attacks in the U.S., just not in a good way. According to a new study released earlier this week, there were 53 reported attacks last year. That is a steep increase over 2011, when just 31 attacks were recorded.

Despite the fact that this is the highest total in more than a decade, scientists assure us that there is no indication that sharks are actually getting more aggressive. One of the researchers in charge of the report said that a more likely cause for the high numbers is simple economics. In recent years, the global recession has kept people from traveling as much as they have in the past, which includes going to the beach on their holiday. With fewer people at the beach, the sharks have fewer people to prey upon. But as the economy showed signs of life last year, more people went back into the water.

If you’re looking to reduce your chances of a painful – possibly deadly – shark encounter, you may want to avoid visiting Florida. According to the report, it was the state with the highest number of attacks in 2012 with 26 in total. Hawaii came in a distant second with 10. California had just 5 attacks, but one of those was fatal.

On an international level, Australia was second to the U.S. with a total of 14 attacks despite the fact that it has far more miles of coastline. The country also has almost 300 million fewer people than the States as well, which is a contributing factor as to why the numbers are significantly lower. South Africa was third with four total attack, although three of those were fatal.

[Photo Credit: Harryemi via WikiMedia]

Video: Man Wrestles Shark On Australian Beach

Would you wrestle a shark? This British holidaymaker did when he spotted one close to some children on a beach in Queensland, Australia.

Paul Marshallsea, 62, grabbed the two-meter-long dusky shark by the tail and dragged it away from shore. As soon as it got in deeper water, the BBC reports, it turned on him and almost bit his leg.

Dusky sharks have the most powerful bite of any of the 400 shark species. While they aren’t considered one of the most dangerous varieties, they should be treated with caution.

Lifeguards and members of the coast guard were then able to lure the shark into a nearby creek with the hope that it would return to sea with the tide. They said the animal is probably sick and while they praised Marshallsea’s actions, they don’t recommend wrestling sharks.

Australia’s Kakadu National Park floods trap tourists after they ignore closed road signs

Australia floodsWhat is it with German tourists and Australia’s Northern Territory? If they’re not getting eaten by crocodiles or succumbing to dehydration, they’re blatantly ignoring road signs and driving their way into croc-infested floodwaters. NT News online reports that four wayward Germans visiting remote Kakadu National Park drove their rented four-wheel-drive–allegedly at 80mph, no less–through the flooded crossing at Magela Creek and Oenpelli Road. The group were en route to see the famed Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr, in the East Alligator region of the park.

The car stalled out, leaving the foursome stranded in three feet of water, smack-dab in the middle of a 300-foot crossing. Despite their apparent inability to heed large, glaring warning signs and screams from more intelligent roadside onlookers, the Germans possessed enough survival instinct to clamber to the top of their vehicle, where they were rescued by police 30 minutes later.

Look, I’ve spent a lot of time in Australia, including Kakadu. I’ll be the first to point out that the international media and popular film and literature make the country out to be some kind of fauna-invoked death wish. If the great whites and saltwater crocs don’t get you, the box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopi, brown snakes, taipans, or redback and funnel web spiders will.

I’m not disputing the deadliness of these creatures. And I can’t deny that certain situations like the current floods in Queensland make an encounter more likely. The advice to avoid “crocky” areas of tropical Northern Australia is no joke, and should be taken very seriously. In general, however, it’s easy to avoid crocs and the rest of these much-maligned critters; your odds of ever seeing one (even if you’re Australian) are unlikely. It’s a huge continent, guys, and like most venomous or aggressive species, most of these animals won’t attack unless provoked.

When I visited stunning Kakadu (with a seasoned outfitter from the region, because there’s no shortage of untrained, self-proclaimed, even downright dangerous guides in the world), it was this same time of year; the “Wet,” or monsoon season. It’s low season for tourists because many roads are flooded, and as such, that does make for greater statistical odds for a croc encounter. But more to the point, why would you intentionally disobey safety precautions, especially when you’re in a foreign environment/they’re prominently displayed/designed for easy comprehension by international visitors?

The bottom line is, whether you choose to explore isolated places alone or with an environmentally-responsible, accredited professional, use your brain. Obey the rules, because they exist for a reason. Behave with respect for the land, flora, fauna, and people. Your stupidity or carelessness often cause more than just inconvenience to others. It can result in great expense and lost lives, including those of your rescuers. If nothing else, you’ll become fodder for global news outlets, who use you as an example of what not to do.

Red Sea beaches add safety measures against shark attacks

shark, sharks, shark attack, shark attacksBeaches at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh will reopen after officials ordered new safety measures following a recent series of shark attacks.

One swimmer was killed and four others injured in attacks by at least two sharks.

The new safety measures include patrol boats and onshore viewing stations. Swimmers, divers, and snorkelers will be reminded to stay within certain areas and not to feed the sharks.

Sharm el-Sheikh hasn’t had a fatal shark attack since 2004 and it’s unclear why so many incidents have happened in so short a time. One theory is that a boat carrying animals threw some dead carcasses overboard and that encouraged the predators. Another theory says that overfishing has forced sharks to hunt closer to shore, bringing them in contact with humans.

Deadly Red Sea shark attacks puzzle scientists

shark, shark attack
Marine biologists are scratching their heads over the spate of shark attacks near Egypt’s Red Sea port of Sharm El-Sheikh, the BBC reports. The waters near the city, which are popular for swimmers, snorkelers, and scuba divers, have seen attacks that have left one tourist dead and four injured in the past week.

The attacks started last week when a shark bit three tourists in a single day. Since then another swimmer has been injured and last Sunday a German woman was killed very close to the shore. Most of the beaches are now closed and authorities are warning people to swim in groups and avoid swimming at night.

The attacks were carried out by more than one shark from more than one species, including an oceanic whitetip and a mako. Marine biologists say this is “highly unusual”. They’re unsure what has caused the attacks, but suspect that when a cargo ship dumped a load of animal carcasses overboard near the shore it might convinced the sharks that it was a new feeding ground.

The mako has since been caught, but the oceanic whitetip, which is believed to have killed the German woman, is still at large.

[Photo courtesy Johanlantz via Wikimedia Commons]