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60 Minutes Shoddy Shark Attack Research

Photo of a shark on a South African tour courtesy of David Salvatori on Flickr.
Are sharks suddenly evolving into man-eaters?!
60 Minutes worries they are. Last night they updated a story on shark tourism, which they blame for sharks “becoming more dangerous.”

Their proof? When they did the story in 2005, there had been six attacks off South Africa in the previous two years, three fatal. Before that Bob Simon declares shark attacks “virtually unheard of here.” Really?

Look, I know the game. Reporters always have to justify a story with a news peg. But shark attacks deaths aren’t one of those nebulous trends like people wearing straw hats; we know exactly how many shark attacks and deaths there are because the Global Shark Attack File keeps track.

The file doesn’t show any big increase in South Africa or the world. The file shows that there was about one fatal shark attack per year in South Africa since the early 1980s. Since 60 Minutes reported on this supposed surge in shark attacks in 2005? There have been three confirmed deaths off South Africa (and two deaths where sharks might have been involved). In other words, shark deaths have been following the same pattern for three decades: about one death a year off South Africa. And worldwide it’s about five a year.

You know what would’ve been a smart update? How about the study out just last month that tours off Hawaii aren’t really effecting shark behavior?

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2 comments to 60 Minutes Shoddy Shark Attack Research

  • I want to go Diving with Great White Sharks, who does the charterdives?

  • Shark Attacks

    Thanks for informative post. There have been disturbing sights of thousand odd shark egg castings scattered through the area of New Castle Beach which points to a bumper crop of sharks this year.