Shark attacks increase worldwide 2008-02-28 03:22:57   Print

    LOS ANGELES, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The number of worldwide shark attacks overall increased from 63 in 2006 to 71 in 2007, continuing a gradual upswing over the past four years, according to figures released by LiveScience on Wednesday.

    Because the global population of humans is growing fast, so more people go to the beach, said George Burgess, curator of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

    And nowadays, beach-goers do not just go for a dunk. They hang out in shallow water (home for many sharks) for long periods of time to surf, windsurf, boogie-board, kayak and dive, he said while explaining the cause for the rise in shark attacks.

    "There are more people in the water than there ever have been," Burgess told LiveScience. "We can pretty much predict that next year there will be even more attacks. Even if shark populations are declining, which we know they are, even in a local situation if populations have been depleted, there is still a probability of getting an attack."

    Sharks are disappearing from the world's oceans due to over fishing, says Julia Baum, a researcher at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, California.

    Humans killed an estimated 38 million sharks for their fins each year, Baum said. That's as many sharks as the entire human populations of the 35 largest cities in the United States. Other estimates are nearly double that.

    Some nations have banned shark fishing, but the bans are hard to enforce. And it is a free-for-all in international waters, Baum said.

    A study conducted by Baum showed all great shark species in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean have declined by more than 50 percent since the early 1970s.

    The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service is proposing to effectively close down much of the coastal large shark fisheries, Baum said.

Editor: Yan Liang
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