By Daniel Ritz
On Jan. 24, the Shark Research Committee released its 2017 Pacific Coast Shark attack report. There were nine authenticated unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast of North America during 2017, of which none were fatal. There were eight attacks recorded from California and one in Washington. One attack occurred in March, one in April, four in July, one in August, one in November and one in December.
Only one shark attack was reported south of the Santa Barbara County line, with the remaining eight attacks from Santa Barbara County and north. The single Washington shark attack occurred at the Grays Harbor jetty, in Westport. Four of the attacks occurred to people kayaking, two surfing, one paddleboarding, one freediving and one swimming. The great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was identified or highly suspected in all nine of the attacks.
The publication Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century authenticated 108 unprovoked shark attacks from the Pacific Coast between 1900 and 1999. The great white shark was implicated in 87 percent of the 108 confirmed attacks with an annual average of slightly more than one shark attack per year. The nine cases reported for 2017 brings the total number of unprovoked shark attacks occurring along the Pacific Coast during the 21st Century to 103. This is six times the 20th century annual average of slightly more than one shark attack per year. The great white shark was positively identified or highly suspect in 92 of the 103 attacks recorded during the 21st century. From 2000 to the present, 51 of the 103 confirmed shark attacks occurred during the three-month period of August, September and October. There were eight fatal shark attacks confirmed from 1900 to 1999 and five fatal attacks reported from 2000 to 2017. The 13 fatal attacks represent six percent of the 211 total cases.
There was an overall increase in the number of great white shark observations, encounters and interactions with pinnipeds, reported in 2017.
Additional information regarding the Shark Research Committee’s conservation, education and research programs is available at www.sharkresearchcommittee.com.