By Marisa Gerber
3:10 PM PST, February 13, 2013
Shark week, step aside. This is a story about shark year.
In 2012, officials recorded 53 shark attacks in the U.S., making it the year with the most attacks since 2000, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File report released Monday.
With 26, Florida had more than twice as many attacks as any other state, the report said.
In California, one of the five shark attacks recorded last year was fatal. In October, veteran surfer Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., 39, was killed by a great white shark off the coast of Santa Barbara.
Solorio was one of seven people who died from shark attacks worldwide in 2012, the report said. Although that mark was fewer than the 13 recorded in 2011, it beat the yearly average of four fatalities from 2001 to 2010.
The main cause of the increased attacks? Population growth. As the world’s population increases and more people spend time in the water, it makes sense that the number of attacks would increase too, shark attack file curator George Burgess told the Los Angeles Times.
And, in the age of the Internet, it’s easier for the shark attack file to thoroughly tally cases worldwide. In one recent case, Burgess said, a man who survived a shark attack in the waters off the Galapagos Islands sent him an email moments after the attack to tell him what had happened.
Although shark attacks are rare, Burgess still urges people to avoid areas with high shark populations during certain seasons.
“You can cut across a freeway and you can do it with your eyes closed and hope not to get hit,” Burgess said, making an analogy for swimming in shark-infested water. “Or you can look both ways and not cross at the times when the traffic is highest. It’s just a matter of common sense.”
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