Recession credited with U.S. drop in shark attacks

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shark attackCould the lousy economy be keeping you from being mauled by a Great White? According to one researcher, the answer is yes.

The University of Florida in Gainesville keeps an International Shark Attack File that tracks the number of times sharks sink their teeth into humans. The number of shark attacks in U.S. waters in 2009 was the lowest it's been in a decade, with only 28 reported. By contrast, just two years previous in 2007, there were 50 shark attacks.
According to this article in the Gainesville Sun, the scientist who heads up the Shark Attack File research says the recession gets credit for the significant drop in attacks.

Since more Americans are saving their pennies instead of springing for a vacation, there are fewer travelers visiting beaches and coastal getaway destination. This, in turn, provides fewer opportunities for swimmers or surfers to come into contact with hungry sharks.

Another statistic that bolsters researchers' assertion is the fact that around the world, shark attacks were on the rise last year. In other words, it's not that the sharks are getting any less hungry. Researchers attribute the increase to the world's steadily expanding population. In the U.S., though, there just aren't as many of us splashing around in the surf to be bitten.

According to this article from the Miami Herald, though, the U.S. is still the global leader in shark attacks. It's followed by Australia, which had 20 attacks last year in comparison to 28 in the U.S. Worldwide, shark attacks peaked in 2000.

University of Florida researchers say that vacationers who want to protect themselves should avoid swimming at dawn and dusk, when sharks are most likely to be on the prowl. They also stress that most shark attacks aren't the gory, blood-spattered stuff of Jaws movies; most are comparable to a dog bite, they say.
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