Recession bites shark attacks

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Washington, Feb 20 (ANI): Even sharks are feeling the impact of the ongoing recession, says a University of Florida researcher.

Shark attacks on humans dropped worldwide in 2008 to their lowest level in five years, apparently because the recession has curtailed seaside vacations, said George Burgess, ichthyologist and director of the International Shark Attack File.

Burgess said that the latest statistics reveal that the total number of shark attacks declined from 71 in 2007 to 59 in 2008, the fewest since 2003, when there were 57.

"I can't help but think that contributing to that reduction may have been the reticence of some people to take holidays and go to the beach for economic reasons. We noticed similar declines during the recession that followed the events of 2001, despite the fact that human populations continued to rise," Burgess said.

Burgess said that shark attacks dropped in the United States and abroad in 2008.

He said, in recent years, vacationing tourists have been attacked off beaches in remote parts of the globe, such as Cocos Island in the Indian Ocean, where none was reported in the past.

There were four fatal attacks last year - an average number - compared with only one in 2007, which marked a two-decade low.

Two of the deaths were in Mexico, one was in Australia and one was in the United States.

Burgess said that the number of shark attacks in the United States, which typically makes up about two-thirds of the total worldwide, dropped from 50 in 2007 to 41 in 2008.

Thirty-two of those attacks were in Florida - the same number as the previous year - followed by North Carolina and South Carolina, with three each; Hawaii, two; and California, one. ANI)

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