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Researcher: Seven Unprovoked Shark Attacks Along U.S. Pacific Coast In 2009; Attacks Trending Up Sharply News Service
March 18, 2010 19:06 EST

LOS ANGELES, California -- Shark attacks are trending up for the U.S. Pacific Coast according to new statistics released today by the Los Angeles-based Shark Research Committee. According to Ralph Collier, who heads research for the Shark Research Committee, the average number of attacks in the first ten years of the new century are more than five times higher than the annual average number of attacks for the previous century.

The text of the Shark Research Committee news release follows:

There were 7 unprovoked shark attacks authenticated from the Pacific Coast of North America during 2009. All 7 of the reported attacks occurred in California and were distributed in the following months; April (1), July (1), August (2), October (1) and November (2), with 5 of the 7 attacks occurring South of the Santa Barbara/Ventura County line. Activities of the victims were; 3 Surfing, 1 Paddle-Boarding, 1 Diving, 1 Surf- Fishing, and 1 Swimming.

The great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was positively identified or highly suspect as the causal species in 5 of the attacks with 1 attack attributable to the thresher shark, Alopias sp., and 1 unknown species.

The publication “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.

The 7 cases reported for 2009 brings the total number of unprovoked shark attacks occurring along the West Coast during the first 9 years of the 21st century to 49. This is ‘more than five times’ the 20th century annual average and represents 45% of the total number of attacks reported for the entire 20th century, and all in less than a decade.

The great white shark has been implicated in 41 (80%) of the 49 attacks reported during this century. Of the 157 unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast since 1900, the great white shark has been positively identified or highly suspect in 133 (85%).

Victim activity for the 49 unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast since 2000 are distributed in the following groups; surfers 35 (71%) of the documented attacks with 5 (10%) swimmers, 3 (6%) kayakers, 3 (6%) divers, 2 (4%) paddle boarders, and 1 (2%) surf fishing.

The number of adult, sub-adult, and juvenile great white sharks observed in Southern California during 2009 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 continue to closely monitor this activity in the coming year.

About the Shark Research Committee

Founded in 1962 scientific research organization, the Shark Research Committee's primary goal was to assist Leonard P. Schultz of the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) in documenting shark attacks from the Pacific Coast of North America. This initial objective was soon broadened to include conducting original research on the general biology, behavior and ecology of sharks indigenous to waters off the Pacific Coast, with particular emphasis on potentially dangerous species. For more information regarding the Shark Research Committee’s conservation, education, and research programs are available at: