Monday 28 December 2020
“A lot of bad luck in the game”
Australia reports many deadly shark attacks
It is still much more likely to be killed by a bee sting or in traffic than by a shark attack. Still, the number of fatal attacks in Australia by marine predators this year is strikingly high – the highest since 1934.
In Australia, the number of fatal shark attacks has soared this year. Eight people did not survive attacks by predatory fish, on both the west and east coasts of the country. “We haven’t seen so many deadly shark bites in Australia since 1934,” said shark expert Phoebe Meagher from Taronga Zoo. For the past five decades, there has been an average of only one fatal attack per year on the fifth continent – in 2019, none at all.
Nevertheless, experts say there is no need to panic for swimmers and surfers down under. Because as far as the number of unprovoked attacks is concerned, 2020 was more of an average year, said Meagher. In the last decade, the annual number has always been in the range between 15 and 25, in 2020 it was 20. However, more attacks ended fatally.
Many injured people have simply been lucky in recent years because they could be treated quickly and thus survived, said Culum Brown, marine biologist at Macquarie University in Sydney. “There are really only two factors that matter when you are bitten by a shark: where it bites you and how quickly you can get help.” This year there was a lot of bad luck in both points.
Sharks are not monsters, although they are often portrayed that way, Meagher said. People are actually not on their menu at all. Although there are thousands of them down under, there are few incidents. “You are far more likely to drown on our beaches than to die from a shark.”