Jaws have dropped? Sharks are attacking people less and scientists are wondering why
Washington, Jan 31: For those who got to know about the terror shark attacks from the iconic film 'Jaws', this will sound something interesting.
After over six decades, scientists at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, have noticed a sharp fall in shark attacks on humans across the globe. The university has a database known as the International Shark Attack File which has recorded every known shark attacks against people.
Quartz came up with a report citing the database that there were 66 unprovoked shark attacks on human beings in 2018 (excluding attacks on people who tried to provoke it) which is 22 less than the number of attacks recorded in 2017 and also a significant drop from the five-year annual average of 84.
Four of those 66 attacks in 2018 proved to be fatal and they took place on the coasts of Australia, Brazil, Egypt and the US, the report said.
The downslide in shark attacks has actually surprised the researchers for it was something that had only gone up over the years. Is it because the number of sharks has dwindled? Or is it because people are becoming more aware of the safety and avoiding intruding the sharks' territory in the water?
"Statistically, this is an anomaly. It begs the question of whether we're seeing fewer bites because there are fewer sharks-that would be the 'glass-half-empty' interpretation," director of the museum's shark research program, Gavin Naylor, said in a press release.
"Or it could be that the general public is heeding the advice of beach safety officials. My hope is that the lower numbers are a consequence of people becoming more aware and accepting of the fact that they're sharing the ocean with these animals."
In Florida, which sees the most number of shark attacks, the unprovoked attacks have plummeted from 31 in 2017 to 16 in 2018 and according to Naylor, the decrease in the number of blacktip sharks that carry out the attacks in the region mainly is likely the reason.
"A more ecologically optimistic view of the change is that safety officials are doing a better job informing the public when sharks are present at a beach, and the public is doing a better job of heeding those warnings. If the trend keeps up, the already minuscule chance of being attacked by a shark while swimming is now even smaller," the Quartz report said.
This reason, is it true, sounds more optimistic than the dreadful conclusion that the number of sharks has gone down worldwide because of incessant killing.