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Great white shark attacks triple during last four years       Send a link to a friend

[DEC. 14, 2004]  CANOGA PARK, Calif. -- From 1926 to 1999, 108 shark attacks were reported from the Pacific Coast of North America, according to the book "Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century," by Ralph S. Collier. The great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was implicated in 94 of the attacks, or 87 percent, an average of slightly more than one attack per year. Since 2000, there have been 16 shark attacks off the Pacific Coast, more than triple the 20th-century average, and all involved the great white shark.

The most recent victim was Brian Kang, 38, of Arcata, Calif. The attack on him on Nov. 11 at 1:30 p.m. broke a record that had stood for 30 years. He was the ninth person attacked by a great white shark off the Pacific Coast this year, which made 2004 the most active year ever recorded for great white shark attacks along that coast or anywhere in the world.

He was surfing with Jennifer Savage at Bunkers, a well-known surfing beach off the North Jetty at Humboldt Bay in northern California. Without warning a great white shark slammed into his surfboard and threw him into the water. Witnesses watched in horror as the huge shark, estimated to be 18 feet in length, clamped down on Kang’s legs. Kang fought back, striking the shark on the head with his fist. Within a few seconds the shark released its grip and Kang rode his board to the beach.

Kang was the 55th surfer attacked by a great white shark off the Pacific Coast since 1972. He was the 124th person to be attacked by a shark off the Pacific Coast since 1926, with 110 of the attacks, or 89 percent, attributable to the great white shark.

Distribution of the 108 20th century attacks is as follows: 93 in California, 14 in Oregon and 1 in Washington. There were eight fatalities, or 7 percent, all from California. The most active months for great white shark attacks were August through October, with more than 60 percent of the attacks from a "recurring location." Divers were the most numerous victims, with surfers a close second.

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Since the year 2000 there have been 14 shark attacks reported from California, which includes two fatalities, or 13 percent, and two attacks from Oregon. Surfers accounted for 14, or 88 percent, of the 16 attacks. In 2004, six of the nine shark attacks reported, or 67 percent, were from a recurring location and also occurred during the three-month period of August to October.

Particularly disturbing, the first authenticated attack by a juvenile great white shark, less than 4 feet in length, reported from any location worldwide occurred at San Clemente, Calif., in August.

The number of adult and juvenile great white sharks reported from the Pacific Coast this year suggests a possible increase in their population.

In response to these compelling statistics, the Shark Research Committee will embark on an archival satellite tagging program in early spring 2005 to gather data on juvenile and adult great white sharks in Southern California waters.

More information concerning the book "Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century," published by Scientia Publishing, and the shark attack files of the Shark Research Committee can be found at

[Shark Research Committee news release]

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