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No, there have not been more shark attacks this year

With two recent shark attacks in South Carolina reported by authorities, some believe more people are getting bitten this year compared to previous years.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In just the last several days, there have been two shark bites at Myrtle Beach. Police said they happened less than two hours apart.

From Long Island, New York, to both coasts of Florida, shark sightings this summer have forced some beaches to temporarily close.

Is this a sign of a trend, and how common are these incidents?

THE QUESTION

Globally, have there been more shark attacks this year?

OUR SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, globally there haven't been more shark attacks this year.

WHAT WE FOUND

Data from the Shark Attack File painted a pretty steady story of shark bites over the past several years.

Credit: WCNC

There have been 61 attacks so far in 2022. Compare that to 73 around the world in 2021, and the five-year average of 72 attacks each year.

"So when we look at it globally, it's really quite a standard year," Naylor said.

But Naylor recognized when shark attacks occur on a familiar beach or near someone's community, it's more personal.

"So when any unfortunate event happens to you, you feel singled out, and you feel as if you've been particularly unlucky, and all the statistics that tell you that this is a very low probability event don't seem to be applying to you," Naylor said.

The Shark Research Institute said historically, unprovoked shark attacks are random and happen in different places. Naylor said they're usually an accident.

"We know that because 60% of shark bites happen when the visibility is poor because then the sharks are more likely to make a mistake," Naylor said. "They're in subtropical areas where there are a lot of sharks and sharks would have ample opportunity to bite people. But they don't. The fact that there are so few actually should be very reassuring."

Furthermore, Naylor said you're more likely to get struck by lightning than bitten by a shark.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify. 

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