Friday, April 25, 2008

Maps and Statistics of Confirmed Unprovoked Shark Attacks

You may be asking about the image to the right here. As one would expect there's at least one person on this planet who maps out all "recorded" shark attacks on the planet.

Hey, it's the age of the Internet, if they have blogs about cheeses of the world, you just knew someone had to have this.

The interesting thing about this map and the links on it-is the low numbers of shark events worldwide. Here's the breakdown.

Perspective On the San Diego Shark Attack

One of the better looks at this entirely sad event on Solana Beach this morning comes from the Daily Green Blog.

What is believed to be a great white shark attacked and killed a 66-year-old swimmer off Solana Beach, San Diego Friday, leading to a beach closure, mourning among friends and relatives, and rampant media attention.

Such fatal attacks have been relatively rare.

A single swimmer in the South Pacific was the only person to die from a shark attack in 2007, but total shark attacks rose nearly 13% over 2006, according to statistics released in February by Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.

The number of fatal shark attacks hit a 20-year low. In 1987, there were no fatalities. (There were four deaths each in 2005 and 2006, and seven in 2004.)

“It’s quite spectacular that for the hundreds of millions of people worldwide spending hundreds of millions of hours in the water in activities that are often very provocative to sharks, such as surfing, there is only one incident resulting in a fatality,” the lead author, George Burgess, said at the time. “The danger of a shark attack stays in the forefront of our psyches because of it being drilled into our brain for the last 30 years by the popular media, movies, books and television, but in reality the chances of dying from one are infinitesimal.”

The number of shark attacks overall increased from 63 in 2006 to 71 in 2007, a nearly 13% increase, continuing a gradual upswing during the past four years.

“One would expect there to be more shark attacks each year than the previous year simply because there are more people entering the water,” Burgess said. “For baby boomers and earlier generations, going to the beach was basically an exercise in working on your suntan where a swim often meant a quick dunking. Today people are engaged in surfing, diving, boogie boarding and other aquatic activities that put them much closer to sharks.”

Often, about half of the world’s attacks occur in United States mainland and Hawaiian waters, but the proportion was greater in 2007, Burgess said. Last year’s total of 50 attacks returned to 2000 and 2001 levels of 53 and 50, respectively, after dropping from 30 to 40 for each year between 2003 and 2006, he said.

There also was an upswing in attacks along the Florida coast, jumping from 23 in 2006 to 32 in 2007. There has been a gradual increase in human-shark skirmishes in the Sunshine State since they dropped from 37 in 2000 to an 11-year-low of 12 in 2004, he said.

Within Florida, Volusia County continued its dubious distinction as the world’s shark bite capital with 17 incidents, its highest yearly total since 2002, Burgess said. Attractive waves off New Smyrna Beach on the central Atlantic coast are popular with surfers, he said.

Additional U.S. attacks were recorded in Hawaii – seven — marking a five-year-high, along with South Carolina, five; California, three; North Carolina, two; and Texas, one.

Elsewhere, there were 12 attacks in Australia, up from seven in 2006 and 10 in 2005, but down slightly from the 13 attacks recorded in 2004. There were two attacks each last year in South Africa and New Caledonia, with single incidents reported in Fiji, Ecuador, Mexico and New Zealand.

Most of those attacked (56%) were surfers and windsurfers, followed by swimmers and waders (38%) and divers and snorkelers (6%). The one 2007 fatality was a snorkeler from France visiting the Loyalty Islands archipelago in French New Caledonia.

“We advise not getting yourself isolated because there is safety in numbers,” Burgess said. “Sharks, like all predators, tend to go after solitary individuals, the weak and the infirm, and are less likely to attack people or fish in groups.”

Shark-Attack Victim ID'd

Update. Very sad news.

The swimmer killed in a fatal shark attack this morning off the coast of Solana Beach has been identified by a family friend as 66-year-old Dave Martin. Martin is a retired veterinarian who has lived in Solana Beach since 1970. The announcement was made at a press conference held in Solana Beach.

Shark Attack in California-Posts

To get an idea of the public's response to this tragedy we pulled some comments from the L.A Times site who seem to have the best coverage and are thus far staying away from the Fox News style hype which is permeating the other 365 articles and news reports out there at this time.

Here's what people are saying:

1. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. It is a tragedy, yes, but the way human beings are distroying this planet, plants, animals, & wildlife are all suffering. This is a perfect example of the selfishness of the people of our planet...taking advantage of the earth's bounties, killing, distroying and maiming and then complaining about it. This is a sad reality of life in the 21st Century.
Submitted by: Shari
11:34 AM PDT, April 25, 2008

2. Unfortunately dbx's comment about justice is the way Fish and Game usually sees it. They follow public opinion, and there are usually outcries to kill the shark after attacks. I am an avid free diver and we know the risks and respect the environment we go into, it is of course a tragedy, but sharks must stop being portrayed as bloodthirsty, brainless killers. The more people understand them, the less fear there will be of them.
Submitted by: koby
11:28 AM PDT, April 25, 2008

3. This is a tragedy, and I'm sorry for the attack victim and his family. At the same time, it is ridiculous to think that another attack could be prevented by locating and trapping the shark. This type of response seems hysterical and ignorant to someone like myself who has been surfing for the last 15 years in Northern California, where shark sightings and attacks are much more common. Humans are not part of any shark's natural diet. Attacks on humans are rare, and the idea that a single shark would attack humans more than once before it continues on its migratory path, assuming it's a White shark, is ridiculous.
Submitted by: Isaac McGowan
11:27 AM PDT, April 25, 2008

4. Entering the Ocean is a wilderness experience. Even so, an attack by a predator on a human is so random and so rare its shocking when it happens. My condolence to the Gentleman's family & friends.
Submitted by: Tri guy
11:25 AM PDT, April 25, 2008

5. Any habitate other than our own, should be used with causion. A shark like a grizzly bear are preditors and weather they are in the wilds or in a facility of training, they are still wild animals. We need to respect that fact. If you step into a den of vipors you need to know that you are going to get bitten. It is a fact of life. We need to remember that FACT. It is not your God given right to do what you want. My heart always goes out to the victums and their families at their time of greif. May God give them strength to make it through this hard time.
Submitted by: Rhonda in So. Cal.
11:24 AM PDT, April 25, 2008

6. I agree with Mike. Surfers and Open Water swimmers know the risks of their sports. They respect and love the ocean. I hope the killed swimmer did not suffer too much. Fish and Game should be known as search and destroy. They have little understanding of wildlife except as seen from behind the barrel of a long range rifle.
Submitted by: Pita
11:18 AM PDT, April 25, 2008

7. I know there were great white shark sitings off of san onofre a few years ago. I wonder if they are starting to make their way south from oregon/washington area...
Submitted by: matt s.
11:10 AM PDT, April 25, 2008

8. What a tragedy. I grew up going to Solana Beach. I never would have guessed a shark attack would happen there.
Submitted by: Dan
11:06 AM PDT, April 25, 2008

9. we have to trap the shark to bring him to justice and teach nature that democracy will prevail at all cost.
Submitted by: dbx
11:05 AM PDT, April 25, 2008

10. Going to the beach is never a bad thing but we all have to sit back and think here. Trying to trap a shark. For what reason? Once we set foot in the water, we are no longer in our habitat. We must respect the animals of the sea and know that we are swimming at out our own risk. My prayers do go to the individual who lost his life never the less.
Submitted by: Mike USMC
11:01 AM PDT, April 25, 2008

Shark kills man swimming with triathletes in S. Calif.

At 8.00am this morning we started getting calls from the media for comment. Expect an unfortunate result for the sharks coming from this as the media spins this entirely sad event up.

Most of the reporters/assignment producers who contacted us were looking for anti-shark quotes. We politely refused. Our sympathies go out to the family of the swimmer.

Check back for updates.

SOLANA BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A shark on Friday attacked and killed a swimmer who was training in the ocean off San Diego County with a group of triathletes, authorities said.

A man between 55 and 60 years old was swimming at Tide Beach around 7 a.m. when he was attacked, according to a statement on the Solana Beach city Web site.

The man, whose identity was not immediately released, was taken to a lifeguard station for emergency treatment but was pronounced dead at the scene, the statement said.

Swimmers were ordered out of the water for a 17-mile stretch around the attack site and county authorities sent up helicopters to scan the waters for the shark.

"The shark is still in the area. We're sure of that," Mayor Joe Kellejian said.

It was unknown what kind of shark was involved.

Solana Beach is 14 miles northwest of San Diego.

Shark attacks are extremely rare. There were 71 confirmed unprovoked cases worldwide last year, up from 63 in 2006, according to the University of Florida. Only one 2007 attack, in the South Pacific, was fatal.

The last fatal shark attack in California, according to data from the state Department of Fish and Game, took place in 2004, when a man skin diving for abalone was attacked by a great white shark off the coast of Mendocino County.

USA to end controversial shark 'finning'

Sometimes there's good news for sharks. This would be one of those days.

The oceans just got a little safer for sharks. Fishermen must bring their shark catches to shore with fins still attached, the US fisheries service has decided.

The new rule, put forward last week, aims to prevent fishermen from slicing fins off vulnerable species and discarding the rest at sea.

"Finning", as the practice is known, is illegal in the US and elsewhere, but the ban is difficult to enforce. Right now, fishermen may land piles of fins separate from shark bodies, so long as the fins weigh less than 5% of the total catch.

Shark meat fetches much lower prices than do fins, which are the main ingredient in the prized Asian soup. The discrepancy encourages cheating as it is hard to identify the species of a shark based solely on its fins.

Shark Shield Technology-A Testamonial

A quick word about the Shark Shield. Recently a nasty lawsuit and media storm over the Shark Shields ability to deter sharks and effectiveness has surfaced.

The details are here.

We would like to weigh in on this technology. For the past two years the crew of Shark Diver have used these dive units in a variety of places and situations with several different species of sharks, including big macro predators.

The result is always the same, deterrence. In short these units work, each time and every time. For an operation that introduces divers to sharks in baited situations it's nice to know that you have an additional layer of dive security on site. For the film crews we work with they insist on multi-layer shark security when filming. These units allow us to offer that.

Shark Diver Disclaimer:

These units are never to be used as a first layer of shark diver security. Knowing the animals you will be encountering, the area you are diving, and having rock solid diver safety protocols should be your first and foremost consideration. Always leave the area if you have baited sharks and they are acting in a manner that causes concern. Shark Shields should be pre-tested on the animals you will be encountering prior to commercial use to gauge response.

Shark Capture Causes Traffic Jam

What is it with Floridians anyway?

Perhaps the most shark crazy bunch of people on the planet right now with perhaps the exception of China.

Let us qualify that, coastal Floridians.

LOWER MATECUMBE KEY -- All the Miami fisherman wanted to do was measure the lemon shark he had caught and then release it back into the open sea.

Instead, James Fuqua caused a traffic mess on the Overseas Highway when about 50 people parked their cars haphazardly on the road and waded into shallow waters to take pictures, touch the shark or simply get a closer look.

To make matters worse, the gawkers trampled hundreds of native plants -- sea oats, sea-oxeye daisies and sea grapes -- that had been planted in a volunteer beach restoration project over the weekend.

All this for a lemon shark?