Some of the most popular global holiday destinations for Brits are also shark attack hotspots, with more than 440 shark species recorded in the waters worldwide
In previous years, millions of Brits have flocked abroad in the pursuit of some sun-soaked relaxation on golden sands.
But some holiday hotspots are among some of the most dangerous place in the world for shark attacks.
Thankfully only a small number of terrifying incidents occur every year, with an even tinier number resulting in fatalities.
Now as travel restrictions loosen and Brits prepare to flock abroad for a beach holiday, we’ve examined the statistics.
Many of the dangerous incidents took place in destinations popular with holidaymakers, including Australia, the US and the Bahama Islands.
Here, we reveal where tourists are most at risk from an unprovoked shark attack, with data from the International Shark Attack File database at the Florida Museum of Natural History, since records began in 1580.
Last year, there were 41 unprovoked attacks — more than the rest of the world combined.
An unprovoked attack is defined as an incident where it occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the shark, like trying to touch it or feed it.
Of those 41 American attacks, a whopping 21 were in the Sunshine state: Florida, where millions of Brits flock every year.
Unprovoked shark attacks also occurred in Hawaii (9), California (3), and North Carolina (3), with single incidents in Georgia, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and the Virgin Islands.
In May this year, a surfer was mauled to death in a shark attack off a northern California beach.
Tragic Ben Kelly had been surfing off Manresa State Beach in Monterey Bay when he was killed less than a hundred yards away from the shore.
By the time the advanced diver had been hauled from the water, his left leg had been severed at the knee.
Beaches across Australia have seen a huge amount of tragedy, with 11 attacks recorded in 2019.
In a graphic attack just six days ago, a 36-year-old man died after being attacked by a shark at a popular beach in tourist hotspot Fraser Island.
Local media reports that he had been spearfishing when he was bitten on the leg around 2pm on Saturday.
In 2018, tourist Justine Barwick was bitten whilst snorkelling around the notorious Cid Harbour, off Whitsunday Island.
In 2019, Brit Alistair Raddon survived a horrific attack in one of Australia’s most notorious stretches of water.
The 28-year-old’s foot was bitten off as he snorkelled with pal Danny Maggs off the country’s north-east coast, who suffered leg injuries.
But the pair luckily escaped after managing to make it back to their tour boat, which rushed them ashore before they were flown to hospital.
But last year, only one attack was recorded, with ecologists reporting a low number of sightings.
The Cape of Good Hope and the city of Cape Town have been dubbed the « great white capital of the world ».
In 2014 a 68-year-old Austrian tourist was killed by a shark while enjoying a swim at at Second Beach
Liya Sibili, 22, died on two years earlier on Christmas Day after being dragged away by a shark in waist-deep water.
In 2012, the body of Tiago Jose de Oliveira da Silva, 18, was found floating in the sea just south of Recife, in north-eastern Brazil.
At the time, the BBC reports that his death was the 56th shark attack in Recife in 20 years.
Most of these attacks are committed by two species – bull sharks and tiger sharks – but recent migration patterns may explain the recent drop.
But in an extraordinary show of strength, a 60-year-old surfer fought off a 10ft great white shark that bit his arm, in February 2020.
Nick Minogue was viciously attacked at Pauanui Beach, east of Auckland but lived to tell the tale.
He told The New Zealand Herald: « I actually shouted at it ‘f*** off!’ and went to punch it in the eye and missed.
« Then I pulled my fist back and shouted ‘f*** off!’ again and got it right smack bang in the eye.
« It’s quite a big eye, about three knuckles across, and its eye kind of looked up and rolled up.
« It was a grey shark with a white bottom, probably a great white. It was a big head and jaw. I kind of sat up in shock and decided to hit it. That was the only thing to do.
« In between the two punches it crunched down a bit more on the board and then disengaged its teeth, got its jaws off and then I got brushed by the dorsal fin and the tail fin and [it] swam off. »
Most incidents occur whilst people are surfing or swimming bu the total number of attacks overall is low, considering how popular those activities are.
The Florida Museum stresses that « the total number of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide is extremely low, given the number of people participating in aquatic recreation each year.
« Fatality rates have declined for decades, reflecting advances in beach safety, medical treatment, and public awareness.
« This underscores the importance of global efforts to improve ocean rescue, medical care, and shark education. »
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