On Sunday, police in Western Australia called off their search for the body of a 52-year-old surfer, two days after he was seen being attacked by a shark. This puts the yearâ€™s shark attack tally at sixâ€”the highest number of people killed in unprovoked attacks since 1934.
This number is well above Australiaâ€™s 50-year average of 1.02 deaths a year. Yet while fatalities are at an 86-year high, the number of unprovoked sharkÂ bites, 17, is more or less in line with the average over the past decade: meaning itâ€™s not the number but rather theÂ natureÂ of the attacks thatâ€™s contributing to the uptick in deaths.
â€œIn some of the cases this year it sounds like the shark hung around and bit more than once, which is unusual behaviour for great white sharks,â€ Dr Blake Chapman, a marine biologist who examined shark neuroscience for her PhD, toldÂ Guardian Australia. â€œ[And] when they bite more than once itâ€™s more likely to be fatal as thereâ€™s more blood loss.â€
Dr Chapman noted that multiple bites could suggest the apex predators are starting to treat humans as prey. Another factor could be the weather.Read VICE
2020 Has Been a Record Year for Fatal Shark Attacks in Australia