Researchers 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]