Richard Dreyfuss, left, and Robert Shaw are shown with the shark in a scene from the motion picture 'Jaws.' / Universal Studios file photo
If you were terrified to go into the water after Jaws, don't read the International Shark Attack File survey out this week. It reports that U.S. shark attacks reached a 12-year high in 2012.
Still, it's probably safe to go into the water.
The 53 attacks in 2012 equals the number in 2000. In 2011, there were 31 attacks. The report notes that "such marked year-to-year jumps and drops in shark-human interactions ... are not unusual as a plethora of oceanographic, meteorological, economic and human social variables affect the opportunity for humans and sharks to cross paths in a given year."
The report goes on to say that ISAF scientists don't "get too excited about the significance of yearly totals." Also, ISAF says it is getting better at finding out about the attacks.
As usual, Florida led the nation with 26 attacks. Hawaii (10), California (5), South Carolina (5), North Carolina (2), and Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Puerto Rico (one each) also made the list.
Only one U.S. attack, in California, was fatal. That gives the U.S. a fatality rate of less than 2% compared with a rate of 22.2% for the rest of the world. The report cites greater safety and medical capacity in the USA.
"This highlights the need for increasing efforts to improve beach safety, including educating the public about the risk of sharks, providing well-trained lifeguards, and advancing emergency care and medical capabilities in many areas of the world," the report says.
And tucked in the report were a few words to the wise: Only 42 of the 53 attacks were "unprovoked." Perhaps it's not fair to hold the sharks responsible for the provoked attacks. And maybe anyone who provokes a shark deserves their fate.
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