2017 Saw the Most Pacific Coast Shark Attacks Since 2004, Report Says

A new report released this week by the Shark Research Committee found that 2017 had the most Pacific Coast shark attacks since 2004. The number was up from five attacks in 2016 and six in 2015.

Spanning from California to Washington were nine reported shark attacks in 2017, all believed to be great whites. Eight of the attacks happened in California, with the ninth occurring at the Grays Harbor jetty in Westport, WA.

According to the report, “The nine cases reported for 2017 brings the total number of unprovoked shark attacks occurring along the Pacific Coast during the 21st Century to 103. This is ‘six times’ the 20th Century annual average of slightly more than one shark attack per year.”

The report also pointed out the activities of the victims: four kayaking, two surfing, one paddleboarding, one freediving and one swimming. This is out of step with the numbers from shark attacks reported on the Pacific Coast since 2000, as surfers make up 60 percent of attacks (the most of any activity) and kayakers only make up 17 percent (the second most).

While this could be only an anomaly, it also is important to keep in mind all the heightened shark activity and sightings Southern California saw in 2017.

“More people are in the water today than there were 10 years ago, more people are kayaking, swimming, surfing and diving,” Shark Research Committee founder Ralph S. Collier told The Orange County Register.

“As those ocean user groups go up, the likelihood these types of events are going to happen … you’re going to get more reports and you’re going to have more incidents of physical contact with sharks. That’s just a matter of numbers.”

The great white shark. Photo: Elias Levy/Flickr Courtesy of Elias Levy/Flickr

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