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Of the 1683 unprovoked shark attack reports to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) from 1960 to 2007, over half of the attacks took place in the United States! The number of actual unprovoked shark attacks during this period, however, is believed to be significantly higher because many attacks go unreported for fear that the information may affect tourism.
The U.S. states in which there have been the most shark attacks (in order from most frequent to least) include:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina, Alabama and Oregon (about tied)
It bears emphasizing that the data does not include attacks that were not unprovoked, such as those that involve:
- Divers in research holding pens or public aquariums
- Attack on humans whove already drowned or died otherwise
- Attacks on boats
- Attacks in which the victim initiated contact with a shark (such as a diver who grabs a shark)
A trend in a rapidly increasing number of shark attacks, however, is undeniable. Although improved communication technologies have probably contributed to improved reporting, shark attack numbers correlate closely with the increase in human population. The increase in the number of beachgoers is likely the leading contributor to the marked rise in the number of shark attacks.
If you are planning to visit an ocean beach in the future, there are certain precautions you and/or your friends or loved ones can take, including:
- Do not enter the water if a shark has been sighted
- Do not enter the water if you are bleeding — sharks can detect minute amounts of blood from great distances (this also applies to menstruating women)
- Swim in a group — sharks are likelier to attack a lone swimmer
- Do not swim far from shore
- Do not swim during twilight hours or at night when sharks are most active
- Avoid areas used by sport or commercial fishermen where bait is frequently used — the presence of diving seabirds may be an indicator
- Remove shiny jewelry and other shiny objects prior to entering the water
- Dont swim with uneven tan lines or brightly colored clothing — the contrast may attract a shark
- Avoid excessive splashing
- Be especially vigilant near steep drop-offs or between sandbars (areas sharks seem partial to)
If you see a shark while youre in the water, stay calm and swim quickly but smoothly back to shore or deck. If the shark attacks, try to hit it on the nose with an object or your fist. If the shark bites, be as aggressive as you can and try to strike sensitive areas such as the eyes or gills — playing dead wont help. When the shark releases, get out of the water as quickly as possible — any blood in the water will likely encourage the shark to return.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as the result of a shark attack, you may be entitled to compensation. Liability for the shark attack may extend to an insurance company and/or the governmental entity, hotel or resort that failed to post or provide adequate warnings. For an evaluation of your case, contact a qualified personal injury attorney with shark attack case experience.