Number of Shark Bites Worldwide Dropped in 2018

This Oct. 29, 2015, file photo shows signs warning of a shark sighting, which was posted at Makaha Beach Park in Waianae, Hawaii. University of Florida researchers say far fewer shark bites were reported worldwide last year. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy, File)

(CN) – Researchers at the University of Florida said shark bites across the globe dropped significantly last year, while the Sunshine State still leads the U.S. in reported attacks.

There were 66 documented, unprovoked attacks across the world last year, compared to 88 shark bites in 2017, the university’s International Shark Attack File said Monday. There were 32 bites in U.S. waters in 2018.

The five-year average from 2013 to 2017 is 84 bites around the globe.

Four of the 66 bites last year were fatal. The United States, Australia, Brazil and Egypt each saw one fatal shark bite. The yearly average is six deaths worldwide.

Florida led the U.S. with 16 shark bites in 2018. Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina each saw three shark bites. New York and Massachusetts each had two, while California, Georgia and Texas had one apiece.

In addition to the 66 unprovoked attacks worldwide, there were also 34 provoked attacks. Those include instances where divers are bitten after harassing or trying to touch sharks, as well as attacks on spearfishers or people trying to feed sharks, according to the university.

Gavin Naylor of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark research program said in a statement that it’s unclear whether the decline in shark bites is due to a drop in shark populations or people being more careful at beaches.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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