SCIENCE

The Truth About Shark Attacks

Feb 17, 2015 at 8:48 AM ET

For decades, the Australian Shark Attack File has recorded human-shark encounters in Australia. Between 1995 and 2014, there have been 299 incidents recorded, with 32 fatalities. That’s an average of just 1.6 deaths a year in a region known as a world leader in shark attacks.

Great Whites, as you might have expected, accounted for the greatest number of fatalities, killing 24 and injuring another 52 over the last 20 years. Great White killings peaked in Australia last year at four, with the highest injury count coming in 2009, when the sharks injured seven. And yet, it’s a group of lesser-known species known as Wobbegongs that racked up the greatest number of injuries. The bottom-feeding carpet sharks injured a whopping 76 people, but killed none.

It seems surfers are at the greatest risk of shark attacks. Between 1995 and 2014, there were 115 violent encounters between sharks and surfers, 10 of them fatal.