2015 set a new record for unprovoked shark attacks worldwide. The U.S. was at the forefront, with the state of Florida alone accounting for more incidents than the second and third most shark attack-prone countries combined.
On Feb. 8, The Florida Museum of Natural History released a new study that concluded there had been 98 unprovoked shark attacks in 2015, with 59 occurring in the U.S.
The previous record-holding year was 2000, when there were 88 recorded attacks. Ironically, it was 2001 that was dubbed “The Summer of the Shark” by TIME magazine, despite only 76 attacks occurring that year, UF News.
Only six out of the 90 attacks in 2015 proved fatal.
Florida experienced 30 shark attacks alone.
Australia had the second highest rate of shark attacks with 18 and South Africa came in third with eight.
Neil Hammerschlag, director of the Shark Research and Conservation Program at the University of Miami, told The Christian Science Monitor that the new record does not mean that sharks have become more aggressive.
“Although the headlines say ‘attack,’ these are really more of encounters, they are nonlethal,” Hammerschlag said. “It’s important that we don’t create this hysteria … these aren’t mindless killers.”
More humans are swimming in the ocean, encroaching on the sharks territory. Shark experts attribute this and rising ocean temperatures to the increase in human-shark interactions.
For instance, Florida had 79.1 million tourists in 2015, the highest on record. The more people swim in the ocean water, the more likely it is that there will be a shark encounter.
Also, rising ocean temperatures will make more beaches favorable for sharks to journey to.
“We’re going to be seeing more bites north of Virginia in the east and California in the west in the years ahead as long as this warming trend continues,” George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File, told Reuters, according to The Monitor.
“We need to learn to coexist with these animals because it is important that our oceans have sharks,” Hammerschlag told The Monitor.
In January, a Minnesota man was surfing in Hawaii when he was attacked by a shark, CBS News reports. He survived with only cuts across his hands.
Even with this new record, you are 75 times more likely to be struck dead by lightning than killed by a shark.