Australian Sharks and Death: How Many People Die?

Previously here on BobinOz I have brought you many similar and scary posts. I don’t need to list them here, they are all featured on my page called…

But don’t click over to read that just yet, you can do it later. Today, I need to talk about…

Sharks and death in Australia

By and large, this is very much an update on information given previously. Well, not just an update, maybe a bit of a correction.

Previously I have been reporting in posts that there had been 11 shark deaths between 1958 and 2008 in Australia. I believe I got that figure from a very reliable source, it may have been the Shark Research Institute of Australia.

But a series of recent fatal attacks have made me relook at those figures, and my findings tell me they were wrong. Maybe I miss-read something.

Shark attacks: An update:

Shark attacks here in Australia appear to be on the increase, and there are three sharks responsible for the majority of the attacks.

  • Tiger Shark
  • Great White Shark
  • Bull Shark

Trouble is, they all look like this…

Yes, to me, sharks all look the same.


Recently, Western Australia has suffered an unprecedented four fatal attacks in the last seven months; some are now describing the area as the most dangerous in the world for shark attacks.

Some are also suggesting there are now too many sharks in the sea. Others are saying the problem is that there are more humans swimming in the sea, which is why there are more attacks. Going back to my (possibly incorrect) figures for 1958 to 2008, for much of that period there really weren’t that many people about, so there would have been less attacks.

But I can tell you this. Since 2000 to today’s date, there have been 25 shark fatalities in Australia, that’s two a year.

But we have had 5 fatalities in 2011 and 2 already so far in 2012 in the first three months.

That signifies a significant rise!

Some people are calling for a cull, saying there are too many sharks around. Others say this is ridiculous, including the family of the latest victim who, incidentally, was 1.6 km out at sea emptying lobster pots.

As his family have said, he knew the risks and he was in their territory.

I think I agree; about the same number of people die each year from snake bite as they do from shark attack. The difference being, we don’t have to go into the sea.

There is always the swimming pool. We do have a choice.

Remember, it’s always best to swim between the flags; they do monitor the area for sharks as well as saving people who get into trouble.

On the bright side:

It is worth remembering that around 70% of all shark attack victims actually survive. Sharks like their prey to be easy, they don’t like being punched. That’s why they eat small fish.

People who are attacked naturally fight back, punching, kicking; even the old “poke in the eye” trick works. Sharks don’t like that, plenty more fish in the sea, as they say.

So if you find yourself facing the ultimate nightmare, fight!

The only thing I don’t really understand about this is, when there is a fatality, the authorities try to hunt down the shark responsible and kill it.



I can understand the reasoning behind putting down a domesticated dog for a violent attack; it’s always going to be a fair cop. He will still be in the back yard licking his lips.

But how do you find the shark responsible for an attack? And will killing it make the oceans safe again? Will it teach a lesson to the other sharks?

Anyway, now you can flick over and read all the other scary stuff….

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • John April 16, 2012, 5:16 am |

    No bats were napalmed in the making of this production,

  • John April 13, 2012, 7:10 am |

    Nets, I’ve seen them further north, at Port Douglas. They protect the swimmers from box jellyfish. No need for culling.

    Another case in point here is the recent Hendra virus. Bat to horse to human, it is a problem; someone eventually realized that the horses drinking troughs were under trees where the bats fed, the horses drank the water with bat feces in it, and caught the virus. But before people considered it might be a good idea to move the drinking troughs, the first reaction was to literally napalm the bat roosts all over SE QLD. That a human caught the virus was front page news, but the real cause and simple solution was virtually ignored.

    • BobinOz April 15, 2012, 12:29 am |

      As far as I am aware, no bats have been nepalmed, they are a protected species. There is a community somewhere, in NSW I believe, who wanted to destroy their huge colony of bats, but the government prevented them.

      As for the horses drinking water, sounds like the troughs need a simple roof over the top of them.

      Nets do work, a bit, but you can’t net off the entire Australian coastline. And dudes surf where dudes surf, they don’t seem to worry whether nets are there or not. Me, I’m a swim between the flags kind of guy 🙂

  • John April 12, 2012, 8:01 am |

    1000s of people die every year in OZ by shark attack, and twice as many people as that die here every year by spider and snake bite…….. (this is, I’m sure what many people think in the UK) and, what people seemed keen to talk to me about when they knew I was emigrating here…. jealously perhaps?

    The real stats are of course nothing close to that, although, the stats for road deaths in the UK are 100’s of time higher, and yet, those people who won’t move to oz cos they’ll die of snakes and shark attacks, they still get in cars every day.

    You mention some people want to cull the sharks, but why? they are just doing what they are supposed to do. This red neck attitude of ‘we don’t like it, therefore we can kill it’ has not been a great policy in Australia. 20 mammal species extinct since European arrival (not including birds). Some hunted to extinction like the Tasmanian Tiger, others made extinct by the species we introduced (foxes / cats / cane toads).

    • BobinOz April 12, 2012, 10:01 pm |

      Yes, there is an over emphasis on the dangers of living in Australia, probably worldwide. But the reality is all our scary things, sharks, snakes, spiders and the like, only account for five deaths per year on average.

      That shouldn’t be enough to put anybody off of living here, especially when you think of the plus side; the lifestyle and the weather.

      I don’t agree with cull idea either, seems mad to me. Maybe a lifting of fishing restrictions could be the answer though, but without endangering any breed of shark.

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