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Shark attacks: Facts and odds


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Posted by on June 27, 2005 at 01:25:47:

  • More than 60 percent of all white shark attacks worldwide have occurred off the Pacific coast of North America, most of them off California.
  • Since 1900, there have been 124 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks off the Pacific coast -- 107 off California, 16 off Oregon and one off Washington. (State Department of Fish and Game records show 114 attacks since 1926, with 99 in California waters).
  • California has had 10 fatalities from shark attacks since 1952.
  • White sharks, commonly called great white sharks, have been implicated in about 87 percent of all attacks. They are also positively identified or highly suspected as the culprits in all 10 California fatalities.
  • The last fatal attack occurred in August 2004, when abalone diver Randall Fry was killed near Ten Mile River Beach near Fort Bragg. A year earlier, Deborah Franzman bled to death after a shark bit her while she was swimming amid seals off Avila Beach. The third most recent death occurred in December 1994, when sea urchin diver James Robinson bled to death after a shark bit him in the leg near San Miguel Island, one of the Channel Islands off the Ventura County coast.
  • Of the 99 California attacks since 1926, 73 occurred north of San Luis Obispo County. Ventura County has never had a documented shark attack. Four, however, have occurred at San Miguel Island.
  • California locales with multiple shark attacks include Tomales Point, the Farallon Islands, San Miguel Island, La Jolla, Morro Bay, Point Conception and Malibu/Paradise Cove.
  • More than half -- or 64 -- of the 124 Pacific coast shark attacks occurred in August, September and October.
  • By comparison, South Africa logged 93 shark attacks between 1852 and 2004, and Australia has recorded 79 attacks in the past 213 years. Australia has had the most shark-attack fatalities, with at least 32.
  • Other locales that have had shark-attack fatalities include the Mediterranean Sea, New Zealand, Japan, South America and Mexico.

The odds
  • Odds (lifetime) of dying in a shark attack: about 1 in 1.8 million (for years in which there was a shark attack death).
  • Odds of dying in a car crash: 1 in 228.
  • In a plane (or other powered aircraft) crash: 1 in 6,137.
  • From a fall: 1 in 229.
  • In a lightning strike: 1 in 56,439.
  • In an earthquake: 1 in 120,161.
  • In a flood: 1 in 413,887.
  • By being shot to death by someone else: 1 in 315.
  • From an accidental fireworks discharge: 1 in 744,997.

Sources: Ralph Collier from www.sharkresearchcommittee.com; retired state Department of Fish and Game shark expert Robert Lea. Odds derived from data supplied by the National Safety Council.



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