Increasing heat waves aren’t just causing dangerously hot temperatures on land, they’re also causing some unexpected side effects at sea.
According to Global Shark Attack File data analyzed by home security site SafeWise, there has been a noticeable increase in shark attacks in the northwest United States since 2000.
Even though we all have fun scaring ourselves by watching Shark Week or Steven Spielberg’s classic, “Jaws,” the reality of increasing shark attacks has been concerningly linked to rising ocean temperatures.
Between the years of 2000 and 2009, there were 438 total shark attacks. Between 2010 and 2019, there have been 444 attacks so far. However, it should be noted that there has been only one fatal shark attack in 2019.
The study reported that Northeastern states such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York have seen an increase in attacks, though Florida and Hawaii have the most recorded shark attacks over the last 20 years — 487 and 117, respectively. These two states make up over half of the recorded shark attacks in the U.S. since the year 2000.
But even though the upward trend is something to be concerned about, shark attacks are still thankfully rare. There are 91 million recreational swimmers in the U.S. each year, according to SafeWise, and only 44 attacks are recorded on average. SafeWise calculated that makes your chances of being attacked by a shark one in 738 million.
In addition, according to SafeWise, fatal attacks are still relatively low. There have been 17 fatal attacks in the last 20 years. Eight occurred in the last decade and nine were recorded in the previous decade.
The people most at risk of shark attacks are surfers, divers, and long-distance swimmers, and even the chances of a surfer being attacked by a shark is one in 17 million, according to the data. For scuba divers, that goes up to one in 136 million. Using caution, common sense, and exercising safety measures is always recommended while spending time in the ocean.