Australia: Fatal shark attacks increased sharply in 2020

Eight people died in a shark attack in Australia this year. “We haven’t seen so many shark bites with fatal consequences in Australia since 1934,” said shark expert Phoebe Meagher from the Taronga Zoo in Sydney to the dpa news agency.

For the past five decades, the country has seen an average of one fatal attack per year – and none at all in 2019.

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.

“Much more likely to drown on our beaches”

Many injured people have simply been lucky in recent years because they could be cared for quickly and thus survived, said Culum Brown, a marine biologist at Macquarie University in Sydney. “There are really only two factors that are important when you are bitten by a shark: where it bites you and how quickly you can get help.” This year, both points have been very unlucky.

Sharks are not monsters, although they are often portrayed that way, Meagher said. People are actually not on their menu. Although there are thousands of them around Australia, there are few incidents. “You are far more likely to drown on our beaches than to die from a shark.”

Icon: The mirror

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