(CNN) – It’s only natural that around this time of year, news about sharks starts to pick up. New York, for example, increased its patrols after recording five attacks in two days; At least 50 sharks have also been caught on camera off Long Island, and beachgoers have spotted a shark swimming near Florida’s busy coast.
Despite our frightening fascination with these majestic beasts of the ocean, the odds of one of those needle-like teeth piercing your skin is staggeringly low: more than 1 in 4 million, according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), the world’s most comprehensive database of all known shark attacks.
The 35th Official Shark Week takes place July 23-29 on the Discovery Channel and seeks to increase conversation and education about these ancient marine predators that are central to the health of the ocean. (Discovery Channel and CNN are partners with Warner Bros. Discovery.)
Last year, there were only 57 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks, out of a global population of 8 billion, five of which were fatal. However, the rates of shark attacks in some parts of the world are much higher than others, and the numbers are increasing over the years.
Here are the places in the world that had the highest rates of shark attacks between 2012 and 2021, and why they became hotspots.
Florida (259 bites)
If you’re looking for the best time, location, and activity to meet a shark, you should be surfing in Volusia County, Florida, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. local time on a September afternoon, according to ISAF Statistics.
Home to the world-famous Daytona Beach, Volusia has the dubious honor of being known as the “Shark Bites Capital of the World.” New Smyrna Beach, just south of town, is a hub of shark activity.
Australia (143 bites)
In 2022, there were nine unexplained incidents in Australia: four in New South Wales, four in Western Australia, and one incident in Victoria.
Worldwide, bite victims are often floating in the water on a surfboard, water ski, or other device at the time of the attack. Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Shark Research Program, F.C Florida Museum Advice for Swimmers.
Hawaiian (76 pieces)
Maui is the second largest island in Hawaii and the most lively when it comes to shark encounters. An important factor is the unique underwater topography: the gently sloping cliff habitats on Maui are particularly attractive to tiger sharks.
Fishing is, not surprisingly, another extremely dangerous activity in shark-inhabited waters. In May 2023, a kayaker was fishing in the shallow waters offshore off Windward Oahu, Hawaii, when his boat was struck by a tiger shark.
South Africa (29 pcs.)
South Africa was the scene of 29 unprovoked shark bites between 2012 and 2021, six of which were fatal. The Western Cape, which includes the Gansbaai coast, has been the site of the latest attacks. Gansbaai is traditionally a place to spot great white sharks, but in recent years they have been feared by Orcas.
ISAF notes that it is very difficult to determine with certainty which type of attack is involved, as victims are understandably distracted in the heat of an encounter, but great white sharks are one of the species most implicated in attacks.
South Carolina (45 pieces)
None of the 45 unprovoked attacks in South Carolina over the past decade have been fatal. Charleston, Horry, and Beaufort were the locations where most of the incidents occurred.
“If you go into the ocean, you have to assume that you can encounter a shark no matter when and where it is,” Neil Hammerschlag, director of the Shark Research and Conservation Program at the University of Miami Rosenstiel, told CNN of our story about surviving a shark attack. “Fortunately, humans are not on the menu and sharks tend to avoid people.”
California (29 pcs.)
San Diego is a shark bite hotspot in California, with 20 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks since 1926.
Although statistics may show that attacks peak in the summer afternoons due to the large number of people frolicking in the water, the times to really avoid are dawn and dusk. “Many shark attacks are cases of mistaken identity, due to poor vision and the ability to identify on behalf of the shark,” Richard Pearce, author and expert on sharks and former president of the UK-based Shark Trust and Shark Conservation Society, told CNN.
North Carolina (31 bites)
Brunswick County, in the southeastern corner of North Carolina, is full of beaches, so it’s no surprise that it’s the area with the highest number of attacks: 17 of them since 1935.
North Carolina’s coastal waters are on an important migration route for marine species, North Carolina C. Grant’s Chuck Bangley writes in Coast Watchwhich means that most shark species that live on the East Coast of the United States will pass here at some time of the year.
Reunion Island (19 pieces)
Located in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius, Reunion Island is a volcanic rainforest island teeming with wildlife, including numerous sharks around its crystal blue beaches.
Between 2012 and 2021, there were eight fatal attacks, which means that by some measures this island is one of the deadliest places on earth in terms of shark encounters. Geography plays its part: Reunion Island sits on a so-called “shark highway” between the shark-rich waters of Australia and South Africa, which means humans adventurous in the Indian Ocean might just open the front porch door and walk straight into the shark’s living room.
Brazil (10 pcs.)
The state of Pernambuco, in northeastern Brazil, is home to bustling Boa Viagem Beach, as well as the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, made up of 21 islands and islets. It also has nearly six times the number of shark encounters anywhere else in the country. A study published in the April 2023 issue of the International Journal of Oceanography and Aquaculture notes that the local government is seeking funding for scientific research to investigate the “high number of unprovoked shark attacks.” [que] It suddenly began to be recorded in the coastal waters of Pernambuco” since the 1990s.
Bahamas (5 bites)
Nurse sharks are a docile and non-aggressive species, which means swimming alongside them is a popular tourist activity in the Bahamas. However, they are large, up to 14 feet (about 4.20 meters) long, and as you would expect with wild creatures, attacks rarely happen.
Instagram model Katarina Zarutskie found out when she swam alongside them at Staniel Cay in 2018 and one of them squeezed her arm with her strong jaw. “Suddenly I felt like 15 people were squeezing my wrist very, very, very hard,” Zarutsky told CNN. Next thing I knew, I was underwater.
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