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World - 2 People Die in Shark Attacks. How Unusual Is This?

What do these tragic events tell us about human-shark interactions?

Two people were recently killed in separate shark attacks, but how common is this?

The first attack occurred when a surfer, a 56-year-old Hawaiian man was paddling in Honolua Bay on Dec. 8, according to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. In the second attack on Dec. 10, a 38-year-old woman died after a shark tore off her leg 500 feet (150 meters) from the shore at a popular beach in St. Martin in the eastern Caribbean, according to The Associated Press.

But while it may seem ominous that two deadly attacks happened in such a short time span, shark attacks are quite rare, statistics show.

Gavin Naylor, program director of the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File (ISAF), told the Associated Press that he was surprised about the attack in St. Martin. "It's pretty unusual in that part of the world," Naylor said.

How unusual is this?

There have been 78 shark attacks in 2020 so far and a total of 12 related fatalities, according to Tracking Sharks, a website that hosts information on shark attacks around the world.

Thirty-six of the attacks — three of them fatal — were reported in the United States, more than in any other country. Florida has the most recorded shark attacks this year with 23.

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