Sharks nine times more likely to kill men than women

Ruth Doherty
Sharks nine times more likely to kill men than women
Sharks nine times more likely to kill men than women

Sharks are nine times more likely to kill men than women, a new study from Australia shows.

Men are targeted in 84 per cent of all unprovoked shark attacks, and make up 89 per cent of all shark bite fatalities.

The statistics come from a study at Bond University in Queensland, which is set to be published in the international journal Coastal Management.

So why are men more of a target? It could simply come down to the fact that they spend more time in the water than women, said report author associate professor, Daryl McPhee.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "Potentially men spend more time in the water, and are more risk-prone."

The study is part of a wider look at shark attacks and fatalities, which have tripled in the three decades up to 2011.

Australia came top for shark fatalities, recording 171 shark attacks, 32 of which were fatal.

Professor McPhee said this could be down to the Australians' "obvious love and affinity with the water", as well as the type and size of sharks in its waters (tiger, bull, and great whites).

He said: "The type and size of sharks found in Australian waters is also believed to be a factor, with the white shark behind the highest number of unprovoked shark bites globally and prevalent here."

The United States recorded a whopping 769 shark bites, but only 25 fatalities, which McPhee suggested was because smaller sharks might be responsible.

South Africa saw 132 bites and 28 fatalities over the time period.

According to the Daily Mail, in Australia, surfers were bitten more than any other recreational water user, with 63 surfers suffering shark bites, compared with 44 swimmers and 26 scuba divers.

However, only 15.8 per cent of surfers suffered fatal injuries, compared with 34.6 per cent of scuba divers and 33.3 per cent of snorkelers.

McPhee said this is because scuba divers suffer more bites to the head and torso as their whole bodies are submerged.

He reminded readers that shark attacks "still remain an extremely infrequent event", adding that "129 people drowned on Australian surf beaches between 2001 and 2005 alone".

And what is the solution to avoiding attacks? McPhee does not condone shark culling programmes that also kill other marine animals like turtles and dugongs, and according to the Daily Telegraph, suggested: "Governments should focus investment on non-lethal alternatives, including public education."

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