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Shark Attacks In 2010 Rose By 25%

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It seems the sharks have decided to even out the shoreline playing field a bit. According to MSNBC, as shark attack numbers declined in the "shark capital of the world," shark attacks increased globally.

The University of Florida's International Shark Attack File released their annual report on Monday, and found that 79 attacks were reported in 2010, up 25% from the previous year.

While Florida saw its fourth straight decline with 13 attacks, the U.S. still led in numbers with 36 total attacks this year. They were followed by Australia (14) and South Africa (8).

But the oddest occurrence, which file director George Burgess deemed "the most unusual shark incident of my career," was when five shark attacks occurred in the Red Sea off Egypt's coast in December. These bizarre attacks may have occurred due to a combination of high water temperatures, dead sheep in the water, and divers feeding the animals.

So who is attacked by sharks? It's not normally the skinny dipping crowd, unlike what Jaws may have audiences believe. In reality, over half of all shark attacks globally involved surfers.

An average of five people per year are killed by sharks. Meanwhile, fishing fleets kill up to 70 million sharks per year. Given these statistics, Burgess suggests, "The sea is actually very forgiving, certainly from the standpoint of the animal life."

Less than a month ago, environmental groups accused 20 countries of failing to protect sharks from the threat of extinction. Sharks are late to mature and produce few young, making it difficult to replenish their population. 30% of all shark species are threatened or nearly threatened with extinction. When sharks are overfished, not only is the species affected, but major ecosystems are disrupted. While it seems unlikely that humans can negotiate a peace treaty with the sharks, people can at least take steps to preserve marine life's delicate balance.

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