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Since the beginning of the 20th century, shark attacks on human populations have increased considerably. The total 98 unprovoked attacks confirmed in 2015 is the highest on record, surpassing the previous high of 88 attacks recorded in 2000. According to the International Shark Attack File - the only globally-comprehensive, scientific shark attack database in the world - the most attractive terrains globally for attacks are coastal areas of the United States, Brazil, South Africa, and Australia.

In 2015, 164 total shark attacks were confirmed worldwide. Sixty percent (98 attacks) were unprovoked attacks. A majority of the other shark attacks were either provoked (36 attacks) or occurred between a shark and a vessel (14 attacks), with a handful of cases attributed to sunken ships or downed aircraft, known a "air-sea disaster," or post-mortem bites, referred to as "scavenge" attacks. Some cases were inevitably indeterminate, if there was insufficient original evidence available to verify a shark attack, or misclassified as shark attacks when the incidents were actually attributable to other or unknown marine life.

As shark attacks become more common, the delicate coexistence of humans and sharks in popular offshore areas is in the balance. Multiple factors have contributed through time to the number of recorded attacks and could help to inform warnings for coastal areas.

  • Recent evidence suggests that global warming may be pushing sharks closer to shore as new, warm water habitats open up to them, increasing the rate of interactions between humans and sharks. 
  • Some researchers have also connected shark attacks on humans to the rising population of female sharks, which dramatically increased beginning in the mid-1930s.
  • Shifts in available food sources also influence sharks' diets. Researchers have linked the spike in shark attacks in the coastal areas of New Jersey, USA, in 1916 to increased consumption of humans as a result of the casualties of the First World War. Today, conservation specialists are concerned that global warming could be reducing the supply of traditional food sources for shark populations, forcing them into new areas to survive.
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