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 year’s shark attack tally at six—the highest number of people killed in unprovoked attacks since 1934.
This number is well above Australia’s 50-year average of 1.02 deaths a year. Yet while fatalities are at an 86-year high, the number of unprovoked shark bites, 17, is more or less in line with the average over the past decade: meaning it’s not the number but rather the nature of the attacks that’s contributing to the uptick in deaths.
“In 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,” Dr Blake Chapman, a marine biologist who examined shark neuroscience for her PhD, told Guardian Australia. “[And] when they bite more than once it’s more likely to be fatal as there’s more blood loss.”
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