Shark Attacks - International Wildlife Museum

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Shark Attacks - International Wildlife Museum
Shark AttackS
Worldwide, there are about 70-100 shark attacks annually, resulting in about 5-15 deaths. Most attacks
occur in nearshore waters, typically inshore of a sandbar or between sandbars where sharks feed and
can become trapped at low tide. There are three major types of unprovoked shark attacks. The most
common are “hit and run” attacks. These typically occur in
the surf zone where swimmers and surfers are. The victim
rarely sees its attacker, and the shark does not return after
inflicting a bite or slash wound. Usually these are cases of
mistaken identity that occur under conditions of poor water
visibility, breaking surf and strong current conditions. The
second and third most common attacks are the “bump and
bite” attacks and “sneak” attacks. These result in greater
injuries and more fatalities. These types of attacks usually
involve divers or swimmers in deeper waters, but also
have occurred in nearshore shallows in some areas of the
world. “Bump and bite” attacks are characterized by the shark circling and often bumping
Caribbean reef sharks circling sailors
the victim prior to the attack. In the “sneak” attack the shark attacks without warning. In
both cases, the shark attacks repeatedly and multiple bites are sustained. The great white, oceanic whitetip, tiger and bull sharks are
resposible for most attacks on people.
1916 New Jersey Shark Attacks; The Worst In U.S. History
Along the coast of New Jersey between July 1 and July 12, 1916, four people were killed and one
injured. It is not known which shark species was responsible for the attacks, but the great white and
bull shark were most frequently blamed. The attacks caused a local and national reaction that led
to shark hunts aimed at eradicating the “man-eating” sharks and protecting New Jersey’s seaside
economies and communities. Resort towns enclosed their public beaches with steel nets to protect
swimmers.
The New Jersey attacks immediately entered into American pop culture, where sharks became cartoons
in editorials representing danger. The attacks inspired Peter Benchley’s novel “Jaws” in 1974, and Steven
Spielberg’s fearsome film by the same name in 1975.