A new report released this week by the Shark Research Committee found that 2017 had the most Pacific Coast shark attacks since 2004. The number was up from five attacks in 2016 and six in 2015, reports adventure sports network.
From California up to Washington, there were nine reported attacks in 2017, all believed to be great whites. Eight happened in California, with the ninth occurring at the Grays Harbor Jetty in Westport, WA.
According to the report, the nine cases reported in 2017 brings the total number of unprovoked attacks occurring along the Pacific Coast during the 21st Century to 103. This is ‘six times’ the 20th Century annual average of slightly more than one attack per year.
The report also highlighted the activities of the victims: four kayaking, two surfing, one paddleboarding, one freediving and one swimming. This is out of step with the numbers from shark attacks reported on the Pacific Coast since 2000, as surfers usually make up 60 percent of attacks and kayakers only 17 percent.
While this could be only an anomaly, it does seem to correlate with the heightened shark activity and sightings Southern California saw in 2017.
“More people are in the water today than there were 10 years ago, more people are kayaking, swimming, surfing and diving,” Shark Research Committee founder Ralph S. Collier told The Orange County Register. “As those ocean user groups go up, the likelihood these types of events are going to happen … you’re going to get more reports and you’re going to have more incidents of physical contact with sharks. That’s just a matter of numbers.”