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Study finds 10 people killed in unprovoked shark attacks last year, above global average: 'A bit unnerving'

A new report says 10 people died from unprovoked shark attacks last year. It also breaks down bites worldwide, and where they are most likely to occur.

Ten people died as a result of unprovoked shark attacks last year, the Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File report states.

A total of 120 worldwide alleged shark-human interactions were investigated. Of them, 69 unprovoked shark bites on humans and 22 provoked bites were recorded.

Bites are considered provoked when a human initiates interaction with the wild animal in some way, such as divers harassing or trying to touch them, people attempting to feed them or removing a shark from a fishing net. 

"This is within the range of the normal number of bites, though the fatalities are a bit unnerving this year," Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark research program, said in a press release.


The number of fatalities is higher than the five-year annual global average of six per year. 

"The 2023 uptick in fatalities due to white sharks may reflect stochastic year-to-year variation, but it might also be the consequence of the increasing number of white sharks seen at aggregation sites near beaches that are popular with surfers (particularly in Australia)," the yearly worldwide shark attack summary says.


The U.S. is again the world leader in the number of unprovoked bites with 36 confirmed cases, the study finds. Florida is the top U.S. state with the most unprovoked bites, with 16 cases. Hawaii takes second place with eight unprovoked bites, and New York takes third place with four.

To narrow it down even further, Volusia County had the most shark bites at eight, representing half of the Sunshine State's total.   

Most bites are associated with surfing and board sports, the study finds. It adds that the total number of unprovoked shark bites worldwide remains extremely low. 

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