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U.S. Pacific Coast Shark Attack Statistics For 2008 Released; Reported Attacks Up Dramatically In New Century

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LOS ANGELES, California -- New statistics for shark attacks during 2008 along the United States are now available. There were 5 unprovoked shark attacks confirmed from the Pacific Coast of North America during 2008, which is slightly more than half of the total number of authenticated shark attacks reported during 2007.

The victims were engaged in surfing (2), kayaking (2), and swimming (1). The fatal attack on swimmer David Martin at Solana Beach in April was the third fatality confirmed for the 21st Century with the prior two occurring in the month of August in 2003 and 2004. The Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was positively identified as the causal species in all five of the attacks verified in 2008. This brings the total number of authenticated shark attacks along the West Coast during the first 8 years of the 21st Century to 42, 'more than five times' the Twentieth Century annual average.

"Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century" authenticated 108 unprovoked shark attacks from the Pacific Coast between 1900 and 1999. The Great White Shark, was implicated in 94 (87%) of the attacks with an annual average of slightly more than one shark attack per year.

It is compelling that since the year 2000 there have been 42 unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast. This is nearly 40% of the total number of attacks reported for the entire Twentieth Century and all in less than a decade.

The most recent victim was Tony Johnson kayaking near Tomales Head and Dillon Beach, California on December 20th. He was the eighth kayaker to be attacked off the Pacific Coast since the first reported incident in 1989 and the 150th shark attack victim since 1900. The Great White Shark has been implicated in 130 (87%) of the 150 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast of North America.

There were 36 shark attacks confirmed from California, which includes 3 fatalities, and 6 unprovoked attacks reported from Oregon during the first eight years of the 21st Century. Surfers accounted for 32 (76%) of the shark attacks documented since 2000 with 4 (10%) swimmers, 3 (7%) kayakers, 2 (5%) divers and 1 (2%) paddle boarder.

The number of juvenile and adult Great White Sharks observed in the Southern California area during 2008 suggests a possible change in their population dynamics and seasonal site preferences. The number of stranded marine mammal carcasses reported, specifically their location and time of year, would seem to support this observation. The Shark Research Committee will closely monitor this activity in the coming year.

Additional information regarding the Shark Research Committee's conservation, education, and research programs and how you can participate are available at:

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

9 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

I have NO idea why you report that Tony Johnson was 'the most recent VICTIM of shark attack" on dec 20. Tony was NOT a victim his paddle simply BUMPED into a shark... NO BITE marks were present. Why would you erroneously call this a attack and not simply an " encounter' with a great white? Please..journalism 101 here..please....101./..101...101...this is NOT cvomplicated journalism./... Proper journalism would be. On Dec 20 2008, a Kayaker ENCOUNTERED a Great white of the beach of Dillon on the pacific coast. In this magnificent encounter the Tony's paddle bumped the White shark. Tony called out to his group and they all safely made their way to shore. That is journalism 101. The last thing anyone needs is sensationalism.
   comment# 1   - james paulson · florida usa · Jan 13, 2009 @ 4:40pm
- Editor: But David Martin's 'encounter' was an 'attack', right?

Of course Martins would be described as an attack. However, the issue with proper journalism is the paragraph that includes Tony Johnson... He was NOTY attacked and you said he was. That is misleading, improper and simply put, poor journalism.
   comment# 2   - james paulson · florida usa · Jan 15, 2009 @ 1:29pm

From: Dillon Beach — On December 20, 2008 Tony Johnson reported the following; “Lucy, Anders, Cristina, Bill, Gordon, Jonathan and I were returning from a beautiful day of paddling. We were all gathered just south of Tamales Head in front of Dillon Beach. The group was deciding on surfing options when I asked Lucy if she wouldn't mind if I went in. It was 3:00 PM. While going in I remember trying to make a conscious effort to use proper torso rotation and form while using my Greenland paddle. When half way through my right stroke a Great White Shark, with a girth larger than the width of my 22 inch kayak, hit my paddle from behind with such force that it slammed me forward to the front of my deck. Feeling the turbulence on my boat I sat up in shock at the speed, power, and size of this creature. I wish there were some way I could relate, or explain, how fast this creature was in water. I was facing the beach with my paddle out of the water, holding it in preparation for a second hit and saying to myself, 'stay frosty.' I was afraid to move and started yelling to my group that was behind me, ‘Great White’ – ‘Great White.’ I did this for several seconds before I decided to turn the boat around and head for the group. I stayed very still and slowly extended my paddle to turn towards the group.
   comment# 3   - Jeff Dudas · Miami, FL · Jan 15, 2009 @ 1:50pm

Continued.... While turning the boat I looked to my right and there, 15 – 20 feet away, was the Great White, its dorsal fin out of the water. Its dorsal fin was large and shredded at the tip. The Great White was moving slowly, turning with my boat, this really caused me to panic and I paddled as fast as I could to the group yelling ‘Great White’ many times until someone heard me. We all gathered together and paddled in to Dillon Beach. While on the beach I examined the paddle and there were no bite marks, which I can't explain.”
   comment# 4   - Jeff Dudas · Miami, FL · Jan 15, 2009 @ 1:51pm

Sounds like an awesome ENCOUNTER with one of natures incredible marine life.... I guess to see marine life we have to go to their home...the ocean..
   comment# 5   - james · usa · Jan 16, 2009 @ 7:01pm

Dose anyone ever see how "great" is that white shark from the point of view of a cute, healthy young seal? It is amaizing that so many people are defending these cruel prediors...
   comment# 6   - I. Nagez · Vancouver, Canada · Jan 17, 2009 @ 3:12am

To l. Nagez- Vancouver, Canada: It is amazing you would make such a naive and narrow minded statement. Apparently you have little or no respect for Great White sharks. Keep in mind, man trespasses on the shark's turf. What you mistake for shark cruelty is simply shark survival. You must consider the "cute, healthy young seal" cruel as well. They eat cute and healthy fish. These cruel fish eat other cute fish so on and so forth. Ever heard of the food chain? Like it or not, we are just part of it. Cruelty does not exist in the animal world. Cruelty is a characteristic reserved for mankind. It is man's cruelty that needlessly consumes or destroys natural resources, pushes animals out of their habitats, and drives them to extinction. I presume you have a very shallow relationship with the ocean. Do you surf, kayak, dive? Have you ever heard a surfer who's been attacked by a shark call the shark cruel? I've only heard them speak with respect and admiration. They acknowledge that when we are in the ocean, we are in their world and subject to their rules. That is part of the beauty of ocean activity. We can see into another world, exist in it momentarily, learn from it, and hopefully grow in ways that make our time on solid ground more meaningful.
   comment# 7   - Mark · San Diego, CA · Jan 23, 2009 @ 9:50am

to Mark from San Diego: congratulations, Mark! Your comment is marvellous and there´s nothing to be added. The ocean is not in my neighbourhood and I´ve never been diving. Yet, I share your admiration and respect.
   comment# 8   - Eva G. · Limburg, Germany · Apr 5, 2009 @ 8:20am

I always go swimming at Dillon Beach, I have always know that there was sharks. I never knew it's was a breeding ground for Great Whites thou. I was at work and one of my co workers told me he goes shark fishing there around this time of year(end of July ). He said I was crazy for swimming there , so the next time I went I still went swimming but was alittle more leary, but I was talking to the same guy at work and told him I was getting ready to go camping at dillon beach again and we got to talking about sharks and he said there was great whites in those waters. I did believe him so that's why I was looking at this web site, needless to say I will not be going out as deep. Lol!!!
   comment# 9   - Eric · Lodi,CA. · Jul 23, 2012 @ 10:02pm
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