How Common Are Shark Attacks at the Beach?

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Summer 2022 is coming to a close, and with it, this year’s shark attack statistics are beginning to be clear. How common are shark attacks at the beach, and are they something you should be concerned about if you’re heading to the ocean before the end of the summer? Read on below to find out.

Historical data

While the threat of a shark attack may feel intimidating when you’re at the beach, historical data about shark attacks shows that they’re incredibly rare. Since records began in 1958, there have been just over 1,500 shark attacks ever recorded in the United States, and on average there are only 16 shark attacks per year in the U.S.

On a global scale, there have been less than 3,000 shark attacks recorded since 1958, and on average, there are less than 80 shark attacks per year.

This year’s increased numbers

News this year and last year has reflected a rise in shark attack numbers compared with the last few years, which is somewhat concerning for surfers and beachgoers. As of August 18, there had been 61 shark attacks reported worldwide this year, coming close to last year’s 73 attacks and the five-year average of 72 attacks per year.

There are still several months left in the year, but due to decreased numbers of people attending the beach during colder months, the average rate of shark attacks will most likely decrease. 

Why have shark attacks increased in frequency?

One reason shark attacks seem to have increased in frequency this year and last year is because of the low number of people who attended the beach in the summer of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, many scientists say that increased numbers of shark sightings and attacks are a sign that conservation efforts are paying off and the sea is becoming a more habitable place for sharks and other animals.

Where do the most shark attacks happen?

While the probability of a shark attack is so unlikely it shouldn’t be a big factor in where you choose to vacation, it’s still interesting to know where the majority of shark attacks happen. Annually, the United States often accounts for nearly half of the shark attacks in the world, and Florida accounts for more than half of the shark attacks in the U.S.

Florida’s Volusia County has more shark attacks over time than anywhere else in the world, with over 320 recorded attacks. It’s followed by Brevard County, Florida, with over 150 attacks, and Palm Beach County, Florida, with over 80 attacks.

What can you do to stay safe from shark attacks?

The primary thing you can do to stay safe from shark attacks is to be aware of local news and restricted areas on the beach. Areas are often roped off or restricted because sharks have been spotted, so paying attention to postings on the beach can help you stay safe. Additionally, be sure to travel in groups when at the ocean so you have help in case of an emergency.

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