SCIENCE

Watch This Crazy Unlikely Shark Attack

A professional surfer narrowly escaped a shark attack in South Africa, but it's in the U.S. where you should really watch out

Jul 19, 2015 at 1:28 PM ET

Live television broadcast a dramatic shark attack against Australian surfer Mick Fanning during the final of the Jeffreys Bay Open in South Africa Sunday. Luckily, Fanning escaped unharmed after punching the shark in the back.

The assault marks the first time a professional surfer was attacked by a shark while competing at a professional event. It was also highly unusual: There were only two unprovoked shark attacks in South Africa last year.

Swimming in the U.S. is a lot riskier. In 2014, the International Shark Attack File recorded 52 unprovoked strikes nationwide, making it the international leader for shark bites. Australia recorded the second most attacks, with 11.

Florida is the riskiest state in the U.S. by far, with six times more general shark attacks than any other state: 717 of them between 1837 and last year. California alone was home to 114 attacks during that period, Vocativ reported.

Last year, three people died from shark attacks—a dramatic drop from 10 fatalities due to them a year earlier, researchers found in an annual study released this week.

Surfers like Fanning should be cautious. Surfers have been the target of shark attacks 65 percent of the time worldwide.