The ISAF 2022 shark attack report
The Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File investigated 108 alleged shark-human interactions worldwide in 2022. ISAF confirmed 57 unprovoked shark bites on humans and 32 provoked bites.
|No assignment could be made||3|
“Unprovoked bites” are defined as incidents in which a bite on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the shark.
“Provoked bites” occur when a human initiates interaction with a shark in some way. These include instances when divers are bitten after harassing or trying to touch sharks, bites on spearfishers, bites on people attempting to feed sharks, bites occurring while unhooking or removing a shark from a fishing net and so forth.
Of the remaining 19 cases, four involved bites to motorized or non-motorized marine vessels (“boat bites”), two sea disasters where victim’s boats sank, and four involved shark-inflicted post-mortem bites (“scavenge”). Three cases were regarded as “doubtful,” or incidents that likely did not involve a shark. These included one case attributed to a bluefish and one collision with a shark.
In three cases, the nature of the incident was unclear with the available data (“No assignment could be made”). An additional two cases could not be confirmed as a shark-human interaction (“Not confirmed”). ISAF will continue to investigate these cases in collaboration with local law enforcement and medical professionals until they can be resolved satisfactorily.
2022 at a glance
Global total of unprovoked shark bites significantly lower than average
The 2022 worldwide total of 57 confirmed unprovoked cases is lower than the most recent five-year (2017-2021) average of 70 incidents annually. There were nine shark-related fatalities this year, five of which are assigned as unprovoked. This number is in line with the 5 year annual global average of six unprovoked fatalities per year.
Annual fluctuations in shark-human interactions are common. Despite 2021’s spike in fatalities, 2022 was a return to typical long-term trends which show a decreasing number of annual fatalities. Year-to-year variability in oceanographic, socioeconomic and meteorological conditions significantly influences the local abundance of sharks and humans in the water.
U.S. leads world in number of unprovoked bites
Consistent with long-term trends, the United States recorded the most unprovoked shark bites in 2022, with 41 confirmed cases. This is lower than the 47 incidents that occurred in the U.S. in 2021. The 41 cases represent 72% of the worldwide total. This is an increase from 2021 when 64% of the worldwide unprovoked bites occurred in the U.S.
Australia’s total of nine unprovoked incidents was lower than the most recent five-year annual average of 15 incidents for the region. Four bites occurred in New South Wales, four bites occurred in Western Australia, and a single incident occurred in Victoria.
Florida had most unprovoked bites in U.S.
For decades, Florida has topped global charts in the number of shark bites, and this trend continued in 2022. Florida’s 16 cases represent 39% of the U.S. total and 28% of unprovoked bites worldwide. This is lower than Florida’s most recent five-year annual average of 22 incidents.
In total, unprovoked bites by state were New York (8), California(4), South Carolina (4), Hawaii (5), North Carolina (2) and single incidents in both Texas and Alabama. One of the incidents in Hawaii was fatal.
In Florida, Volusia County had the most shark bites (7), representing 44% of the state’s total. This represents a decrease from the five-year annual average of nine incidents in the area; however, Volusia County experiences considerable variation in the number of bites from one year to the next. Of the nine remaining bites, four occurred in Monroe, and single incidents were reported in Martin, Nassau, Pinellas, Brevard and Palm Beach counties.
Most bites related to surfing and board sports
|Victim Activity at Time of Encounter|
Breaking from recent trends, surfers and those participating in board sports accounted for less incidents (35% of the total cases). Swimmers and waders accounted for the majority of incidents at 43%. Snorkelers/free divers accounted for 9%, and the remainder of activities were too varied to combine. These included jumping in the water, floating on a raft, and scuba diving (13%).
Risk of being bitten by a shark remains extremely low
Short-term trends show both fatal and non-fatal bites to be decreasing. The total number of unprovoked shark bites worldwide is extremely low, given the number of people participating in aquatic recreation each year. Fatality rates have been declining for decades, reflecting advances in beach safety, medical treatment and public awareness.
ISAF offers resources for reducing your risk of a shark bite and instructions for what to do if you encounter a shark.
Full Press Release: Shark bites tie for 10-year low in 2022 but spiked in regional hotspots By Jerald Pinson
Members of the press are also encouraged to check out our “Media Resources” page.
Gavin Naylor, Ph.D.
Program Director, International Shark Attack File
Florida Program for Shark Research
Florida Museum of Natural History – University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611 USA