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Here Are the Odds of Getting Bitten by a Shark in Hawaii

About 5 in a million
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 3, 2019 7:59 AM CST
In this Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 photo, Juliun Perkins who was bitten by a shark on Sept. 8, 2018, while surfing outside of Pounders in Laie, rests with his surfboard that he was on during the attack, on...   (Cindy Ellen Russell/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)
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(Newser) – The rate of shark bites in Hawaii has been increasing slightly in recent years, but the risk remains extremely low—roughly 5-in-1 million—reports the AP. Recently published research that looked at 55 years of global data showed shark bites around the world are highly variable from year to year, but in some locations, including Hawaii, the rates have increased in recent decades, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. "In highly populated regions—like the Eastern USA and Southern Australia—shark attack rates have doubled in the last 20 years, and while the rates remain relatively low, they should continue to be monitored," the report said. Steve Midway, Louisiana State University oceanography professor and co-author of the paper, said Hawaii's bite rate was the highest of the seven global regions studied.

Midway said because the research was calculated using only resident populations and did not include tourists, the rates of shark bites in Hawaii is even lower than reported. The state had 10 million visitors in 2018. "The risk is low and that's been known," he said. "What we did that was ... a little bit different was look at the place and time globally over more than 50 years," providing a historical context that might contribute to a better understanding of risk. The study's authors hope it will temper hysteria that often accompanies shark bites and "contribute to a more scientifically grounded discussion of sharks and their management and conservation," Midway said. George Burgess of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida said the study provides "good statistical oomph" to the notion the shark bite risk is slight, with far more people killed or injured by jellyfish, stingrays, sunburn, sand hole collapses, surf accidents, and car crashes on the way to the beach.

(Read more shark attack stories.)

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