Surfers are more likely to be struck by lightening than to ever be attacked by a shark (aka super unlikely). However, education is the best way to prevent an attack, knowing where shark sightings have occured in order to choose a safe beach to surf or swim. The Shark Research Committe just released its 2013 report which includes data from the Pacific Coast.
There were 5 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast of North America during 2013. There were 4 attacks recorded from California and 1 from Oregon.
The attacks were distributed in the following months: June (1), August (2), October (1) and November (1). Activities of the victims were; 3 Surfing, 1 Kayaking, and 1 Swimming. The Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was positively identified or highly suspect in 4 of the 5 attacks, with a juvenile Salmon Shark, Lamna ditropis, the suspected causal species for the attack on the swimmer.
The publication “Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century” authenticated 108 unprovoked shark attacks from the Pacific Coast between 1900 and 1999. The Great White Shark was implicated in 94 (87%) of the 108 confirmed attacks with an annual average of slightly more than one shark attack per year. The 5 cases reported for 2013 brings the total number of unprovoked shark attacks occurring along the Pacific Coast during the 21st Century to 77. This is ‘three times’ the Twentieth Century annual average of slightly more than 2 shark attack per year during the period 1950 – 1999. The Great White Shark was positively identified or highly suspect in 67 (88%) of the 77 attacks recorded during the 21st Century. From 2000 to the present, 38 (49%) of the 77 confirmed shark attacks occurred during the three month period of August (12), September (9), and October (17). There have been 185 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast of North America from 1900 to 2013. The Great White Shark was positively identified or highly suspect in 161 (87%) of the 185 cases. There were 8 fatal shark attacks confirmed from 1900 to 1999 and 5 fatal attacks reported from 2000 to 2013. The 13 fatal attacks represent 7% of the 185 total cases.
Victim activity for the 77 shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast since 2000 are distributed in the following ocean user groups; surfers 51 (66%) of the documented attacks, with 6 swimmers (8%), 9 kayakers (12%), 4 divers (5%), 4 paddle boarders (5%), 1 windsurfer (1%), 1 fishing (1%), and 1 boogie boarder (1%). The number of shark-bitten stranded marine mammals reported in 2013 was greater than the prior year, especially in Santa Barbara County. The location and time of year, would suggest an increase in the number of Great White Sharks utilizing those specific areas. However, this might not be the result of an increase in their population but rather locations being targeted by sharks migrating to northern regions. The Shark Research Committee will continue to closely monitor these activities.
Additional information regarding the Shark Research Committee’s conservation, education, and research programs is available at: http://www.sharkresearchcommittee.com
Want to learn more about sharks? Check out 4 Ways to Help Prevent a Shark Attack.