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The Australian Shark Attack File (ASAF) is the most comprehensive database on shark attacks and has a long-term scientific documented database containing information on all known Australian encounters that meet the criteria for inclusion. Initiated in 1984, the ASAF currently has more than 970 individual investigations housed on the File, covering the period 1791 to the present (as of last update).

All shark attack cases reported undergo a comprehensive review of the circumstances and available details, formal investigations are undertaken by qualified biologists from the relevant State Fisheries where possible, questionnaires are sent to the victim or witnesses and surf life saving, police and Coronial reports are gathered, making the ASAF as accurate as possible. All cases that meet the 'criteria for inclusion' are classified as either 'provoked' or 'unprovoked'. As information is gathered through ongoing research the details on any case can change to reflect the new information and figures can change occasionally.

The ASAF provides case histories, reports and statistics from the Australian region to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF). It also supplies advice on shark attack issues to goverment agencies, state fisheries, shark researchers, university researchers, local councils, coastal managers, beach safety professionals, the media and the general public. Information requests exceed 400 annually. Detailed information on individual shark attack incidents is held by the ASAF, however, access to these records are only available to qualified scientific researchers for reasons of confidentiality and to protect the privacy of those affected by such incidents.

Shark Attacks in Perspective.

Compared to injuries and fatalities from other forms of water related activities the number of shark attacks in Australia is very low. In the last 50 years there have been 47 unprovoked shark attack fatalities which averages just under one per year (0.94). While there is an element of risk in any activity humans undertake the risk of being injured or killed by a shark must be viewed in perspective (see comparisions below). The following figures are presented to illustrate the risk of injury or death compared to other water related activities in Australia.

Unprovoked Cases Last 100 Years Only:

State

# Cases

Fatal

Injured

Uninjured

Last Unprovoked Fatality

NSW

206

49

107

50

Ballina 2015

QLD

160

56

89

15

Palm Island 2011

WA

77

14

51

12

Gracetown  2013

SA

41

13

21

7

Glenelg 2005

VIC

32

4

18

10

Mornington Peninsula 1987

TAS

9

1

5

3

Tenth Island 1993

NT

8

1

6

1

Cobourg Peninsula 1934

 Total Unprovoked

 533

 138

 297

 98

 

 Provoked Cases Last 100 Years Only:

 

# Cases

Fatal*

Injured

Uninjured

Total

283

36

193

54

* 2014 Fatal Provoked Cases = SA at Goldsmith Beach, QLD at Rudder Reef & Cheynes Beach in WA.

ALL Cases for the Last 100 Years Only:

  #Cases Fatal Injured Uninjured
Total 816 174 490

152

*Last update 8/4/2015

All Cases Since 1791:

 

#Cases

Fatal

Injured

Uninjured

All Cases since 1791 

984

231

583

170

 

 

 

 

 

Total - Unprovoked

655

183

364

108

Total - Provoked

329

48

219

62

*Statistics can be requested for State by State breakdown.

The Criteria for Inclusion:

 All reports of shark attack in Australian waters are assessed against the Australian Shark Attack File criteria for inclusion:

 Any human/shark interaction where the person is alive and in the water at the time of the incident and :

 ·     there is an unprovoked and determined attempt by a shark to bite a person, or

·     injury is inflicted by a shark during an attempt to bite a person, or

·     imminent contact was averted by diversionary action by the victim or others (and no injury to the human occurs), or

·     the equipment worn or held by a person is bitten or damaged by a shark during a determined attempt to bite,  or

·     there is a shark bite to a small water craft where a person is in or on the craft such as a kayak, surfboard or small dinghy.

An ‘unprovoked’ encounter between a human and a shark is defined as an incident where a shark is in its natural habitat and has made a determined attempt to
bite a human without any human provocation. A ‘provoked’ incident occurs when a human attracts or initiates physical contact with a shark, e.g. a person is
bitten after grabbing a shark, a fisherman bitten while removing a shark from a hook, interactions with spearfishermen while spearing fish or the shark, a person
steps on a shark, etc.

The Royal Life Saving Society, National Drowning Report 2013 notes an average of 297 deaths per year for people drowning over the last 10 years in Australia. During the period 2004- 2014 the Surf Life Saving National Coastal Safety Report 2014 states that 78 rock fishermen drowned over the last 10 years (an average of 7.8 per year). There were 176 diving related deaths in Australia between 2002-2009, an average of 23 per year  (Provisional Report on Diving Related Fatalities in Australian Waters 2002-2009). The average fatalities from shark attacks over the last 50 years is just under one per year (0.9).

Any use of this information in any publication must contain appropriate accreditation to the Australian Shark Attack File, Taronga Zoo. This information cannot be used for commercial purposes without express permission of John West and Taronga Zoo. Journalists please note John West has advised that while unable to provide interviews, he can respond to questions via email. Due to John's cuncurrent obligations we cannot guarantee your questions will be answered straight away, but they will be addressed in due course. This database is dynamic and regularly updated (e.g. numbers of recorded attacks and their outcomes are subject to change reflecting the new information available and new cases as they occur).