A kayaking fisherman was Hawaii’s second shark attack fatality this year, following an August attack on a snorkeler. Prior to 2013 there hadn’t been a single fatal shark attack in Hawaii since 2004. Are shark attacks on the rise? (National Geographic News)
The species of shark responsible for the death of the fisherman has not been identified. Here are some sharks native to the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. Check out this website for a better run-down.
- Watch our video “River Shark Attacks.” What are some similarities and differences between the shark attacks studied in the video and the shark attacks studied in the Nat Geo News article? Keep in mind, as the Nat Geo News article reminds us, that shark attacks are very, very, very rare.
- The species of shark studied in the video, the tiger shark, is the same species studied by the scientist interviewed in the Nat Geo News article.
- Both attacks occurred relatively close to shore.
- The victims in both sets of attacks were fishermen (and women).
- The attacks themselves are gruesomely similar. In the video, a victim has lost her hand to a shark attack. The fisherman in Hawaii died after losing his foot in a shark attack.
- The sharks in the video inhabit the (freshwater or brackish) rivers feeding the Bay of Bengal, India. The sharks studied in the article inhabit the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.
- The species of shark that attacked the fisherman in Hawaii has not been identified, while scientists in the video eventually identify the Bay of Bengal species as tiger sharks.
- Read this short article on the the three major types of shark attacks: hit-and-run, bump-and-bite, and sneak attacks. How would you classify the attacks in India and Hawaii?
- The shark attacks in India and Hawaii are the most common type, hit-and-run. “The victim seldom sees its attacker and the shark does not return after inflicting a single bite or slash wound,” the article says. Hit-and-run attacks are often cases of mistaken identity, when the shark pursues potential prey in water with low visibility. By the time the shark realizes the victim is not a traditional food source such as a seal or fish, the victim is already injured by the “hit.” In the case of the fisherman in Hawaii, the “hit” was fatal.
- In Hawaii, there have been more shark-attack fatalities in the last six months than the last ten years. So why is the scientist in the Nat Geo News article reluctant to say that shark attacks are on the rise?
- Even with the recent incidents, there are simply not enough shark attacks to conduct a reliable scientific survey. “The problem with shark bites is that the numbers are so low it’s hard to do any type of statistical analysis,” says the scientist. “There may be something behind [the rise in shark attacks]. It may be due to natural fluctuations or chance.”