TAMPA, Fla. — The number of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide decreased in 2022, according to data from the Florida Museum, but the Sunshine State still ranked No. 1 in terms of the highest reported bites on Earth.
The University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File reports there were a total of 57 unprovoked bites last year – mostly in the U.S. and Australia. Out of those, five were deadly.
In Florida, none of the 16 unprovoked bites were deadly, but two – both likely from bull sharks – ended in amputations.
A woman snorkeling in the Dry Tortugas was reportedly bitten by a lemon shark – which rarely attacks humans. The incident marked only the 11th known unprovoked attack from this species.
“Generally speaking, the number of sharks in the world’s oceans has decreased, which may have contributed to recent lulls,” said Gavin Naylor, the director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Florida Program for Shark Research, in a statement. “It’s likely that fatalities are down because some areas have recently implemented rigorous beach safety protocols, especially in Australia.”
While the numbers of bites surpass double digits, the chances of being bitten by a shark remain "incredibly" low, the Florida Museum explains.
But for anyone thinking of going swimming on an ocean beach, bay or inland waters, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wrote out a number of steps to take if you're concerned about sharks:
- Always stay in groups since sharks are more likely to bite a solitary individual.
- Do not wander too far from shore-this isolates an individual and places him or her far away from assistance.
- Avoid being in the water during darkness or twilight hours when sharks are most active.
- Do not enter the water if bleeding from an open wound or if menstruating-a shark's ability to smell blood is acute.
- Wearing shiny jewelry is discouraged. When light reflects off shiny jewelry, it resembles the sheen of fish scales.
- Avoid waters with known discharges or sewage and waters used for any type of fishing-especially if there are signs of baitfishes or feeding activity. Diving seabirds, which frequently feed on baitfishes, are good indicators of such activity.
For more tips from the FWC, click here.