Changing patterns of shark attacks in Australian watersPublished on 24 June 2011.
John G. West
Although infrequent, shark attacks attract a high level of public and media interest, and often have serious consequences for those attacked. Data from the Australian Shark Attack File were examined to determine trends in unprovoked shark attacks since 1900, particularly over the past two decades. The way people use the ocean has changed over time. The rise in Australian shark attacks, from an average of 6.5 incidents per year in 1990–2000, to 15 incidents per year over the past decade, coincides with an increasing human population, more people visiting beaches, a rise in the popularity of water-based fitness and recreational activities and people accessing previously isolated coastal areas. There is no evidence of increasing shark numbers that would influence the rise of attacks in Australian waters. The risk of a fatality from shark attack in Australia remains low, with an average of 1.1 fatalities year–1 over the past 20 years. The increase in shark attacks over the past two decades is consistent with international statistics of shark attacks increasing annually because of the greater numbers of people in the water.
Marine and Freshwater Research 62(6) 744-754 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF10181