CPR First Aid

In Review: Shark Attacks in Australia

In Review Shark Attacks in Australia

In the latest edition of the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), it was announced that there were no shark attacks in Australia in 2022. This is a significant decrease from the number of attacks seen in 2021, which reached a total of six. While this news may be reassuring for some swimmers and surfers, it’s important to remember that shark-related incidents can still occur and that it’s always best to take precautions when entering the water. 

The Shark Existence

Sharks are a large group of fish that have lived in the oceans for more than 400 million years, long before dinosaurs first began to roam the earth. They are members of the superorder Selachimorpha. Sharks existed in prehistoric times before the Earth was inhabited by land animals and even before many plant species evolved on continents. Modern sharks contain unique features such as a cartilaginous skeleton, five or six pairs of gills, and multiple rows of teeth.

These fascinating creatures evoke a range of emotions in people, including respect, love, astonishment, curiosity, and fear. The fundamental cause of all these various reactions is that they are generally portrayed in popular culture as merciless predators. The reality is rather different, though. Sharks are intriguing, sophisticated creatures that differ greatly from the stereotype. Furthermore, a lot of species are tame and safe.

Sharks are a large group of fish that have lived in the oceans for more than 400 million years, long before dinosaurs first began to roam the earth. They are members of the superorder Selachimorpha. Sharks existed in prehistoric times before the Earth was inhabited by land animals and even before many plant species evolved on continents.

Facts About Sharks

Sharks are the most prosperous species of animal to have ever existed. Their capacity to adapt to changes in temperature, geography, food supplies, and where they live and the breed has enabled them to successfully evolve over nearly half a billion years.

Sharks are mostly oceanic animals that are found throughout tropical and temperate regions.

Shark sizes range widely. The whale shark, a massive plankton eater, is the largest species and the biggest fish.

Shark habitats are as diverse as sharks themselves, and you might be surprised to learn where some of them live. According to where they reside, which is strongly tied to the structure and capabilities of their bodies, there are three different sorts of sharks:

  • Sharks can live at the ocean’s surface and move slowly
  • In the pelagic zone and have incredible swimming skills
  • At the ocean’s bottom in the benthic zone and move slowly while looking for food there. 

The sharks’ evolutionary traits not only determined how they appeared but also the adaptations they needed to live in the wild.

Shark Attacks Statistics

The international shark attack file records 828 unprovoked incidents since 1581, with 160 fatalities; this means that there were, on average, fewer than two attacks each year. It is clear that not all attacks are reported, though.

To give you a clearer sense, there were 98 unprovoked shark attacks in 2015, which led to 6 fatalities. Contrary to common assumption, just 34 shark species are harmful to people because they are implicated in such attacks, including the great white shark, bull shark, and tiger shark. 

Sharks are neither ferocious animals on the prowl for prey, nor are they always prowling for humans. Only 34 animals have ever attacked a human, and attacks result in an average of ten fatalities every year. To put things in perspective, it should be noted that dogs—the best companion of men—kill close to 25,000 people each year all over the world.

Where are Sharks Found?

Sharks can be found in shallow coastal waters all the way up to the deepest, darkest, and coldest areas of the open seas. They can be found in all five of the world’s oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Southern.

Sharks are extremely uncommon below 3,000 meters, however, they are widespread down to depths of about 2,000 meters. The deepest shark ever found was a Portuguese dogfish, which was found at a depth of 3,700 meters or about 2.3 miles.

Sharks of the Australian Continent

Australia has a huge number of different shark species due to its 25,760 km of coastline and its size as an island country. Out of about 440 species worldwide, we have 170 species in total. In Australia, only a very small number of animals pose a deadly threat to people, primarily the Great White Shark, Tiger Shark, and Bull Shark. Some require further protection because they are categorised as threatened species.

What Do Sharks Eat?

Most sharks hunt prey. After sundown, many shark species start to move around and hunt at night. The vast majority of sharks eat other fish as food. 

Huge sharks like the tiger shark and the white shark eat large marine animals like seals, sea lions, and dolphins as well as big fish, turtles, and even sea birds. Sharks may not always be picky eaters, but some consume certain foods more frequently than others.

Bull sharks eat other sharks, smooth dogfish consume crabs and crustaceans, and hammerhead sharks are believed to eat stingrays. 

Many shark varieties have developed special bottom-feeding adaptations. Bottom feeders assist in picking up prey items by using their upper jaw. The Port Jackson shark, a type of bottom feeder, has two different types of teeth. The back teeth are flat and molar-like for crushing, while the front teeth are pointed for grabbing. 

Filter feeding is another method some sharks utilize to gather food. On its gill rakers, the megamouth shark and the basking shark remove massive amounts of plankton from the water. 

The white shark, tiger shark, bull shark, and other whale sharks are among the shark species that have a reputation for endangering humans. No shark is believed to hunt humans specifically; instead, the majority of shark attacks are likely the result of sharks mistaking humans for their usual prey. 

Most sharks hunt prey. After sundown, many shark species start to move around and hunt at night. The vast majority of sharks eat other fish as food. 

Australian Shark Attacks

Many Australians are concerned about the risk of a shark attack. However, fatal shark attacks occur relatively infrequently in Australian waters – over the last 50 years, there have been 53 fatal attacks, which is approximately one fatal attack per year.

There are some easy precautions to take that can help reduce the risk of a shark attack. This risk minimisation advice is reproduced from the Australian Shark Attack File. In Australia, there were just 26 reported shark attacks on people in 2016, according to the Australian Shark Attack File (9 provoked and 17 unprovoked). Only eight of these led to a person being hurt, and two more tragically ended in death. These figures highlight the extreme rarity of shark attacks when combined with the fact that a significant section of our 23.5 million population lives near the coast and the popularity of beach swimming, scuba diving, and surfing.

Australia typically records about 20 shark attacks each year, with most in New South Wales and Western Australia. There have been four shark attacks so far this year, according to the Australian Shark Attack File. There were two fatal shark attacks in 2021 and seven in 2020. There have been 1045 shark attacks in Australia since records first began in 1791, and 236 of them have been deadly, according to the Australian Shark Attack File, which itself is maintained by experts at Sydney’s Taronga Conservation Society.

Overall, around 25% of shark attacks result in death, with one victim every year experiencing a fatal attack.  Historically, dying from a shark bite is not common. In over a century of records, Australia’s shark attack mortality rate is 0.9 – less than one person per year. In Australia, the likelihood of being attacked by a shark is one in 8 million. Even while kangaroos don’t instil the same fear in us, the risk of being murdered by one does exist, but in a very small amount.

Many Australians are concerned about the risk of a shark attack. However, fatal shark attacks occur relatively infrequently in Australian waters - over the last 50 years, there have been 53 fatal attacks, which is approximately one fatal attack per year. There are some easy precautions to take that can help reduce the risk of a shark attack.

Why are there so many shark attacks in Australia in 2022?

The latest shark attack was reported to have happened early this year. The most recent horrible shark attack in Australia has highlighted a growing reputation as the world’s deadliest place for fatal attacks, according to experts, who believe that warm temperatures and an increase in great white populations are to blame. It was the sixth shark attack in Australia in just six weeks of 2022 when a swimmer was killed at Little Bay, Sydney, by a suspected great white shark, the first such death in Australia’s largest city in 59 years.

In addition to being half of the entire number of shark attacks in Australia in 2021, the number of shark attacks in 2022 is already considered in front of any other nation this year. More people surfing and altered prey patterns due to warmer ocean currents are two of the many causes cited by researchers. The population of the great white shark, our most dreaded apex predator, is recovering, according to some of the most recent theories.

Conclusion

Although it is a misconception that sharks attack humans. The necessary precaution must be taken when on Australian shores.

If you are looking for a first aid course at Level 1/174 Gilles St, Adelaide 5000 or any other location near you, to further your knowledge and skills in handling shark bites, contact CPR First Aid for more information.

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