Shark attacks more frequent in South Africa, but overall, don’t worry

From curses to sacrifices, South Africa’s deadly shark puzzle

South Africa’s Second Beach in the rural Eastern Cape is among the world’s deadliest for shark attacks, with five fatalities in five years, three in 2009 alone.

“We’re probably the most unsafe beach in the world at the moment,” says Michael Gatcke, who from the veranda of his guesthouse witnessed a teenage surfer being mauled in January.

As for what is causing the sharks to attack, he muses, “It’s easy to speculate but hard to pinpoint what it actually is.”

Theories for the attack surge range from the shark-drawing blood of ceremonial animal sacrifices by traditional healers on the beach, to loud onshore music or a curse on surfers and lifesavers who have been the only victims.


Interesting theories. Perhaps the sharks around here have developed a more aggressive nature.

According to the article, there were six shark fatalities last year. The threat from sharks is really insignificant compared to things like lightning, car wrecks or obesity. To put this in perspective, see this great graphic of 20 Things that Kill More People Than Sharks.

For another mysterious attack, check out this story. What bit this surfer in Oregon? Did she intrude in a mermaid’s territory?
Seaside surfer describes ‘marine creature’ biting woman this morning

  6 comments for “Shark attacks more frequent in South Africa, but overall, don’t worry

  1. Kristi St.Clair
    December 7, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Much as I like the “20 Things that Kill More People than Sharks”, I do have to point out that it gives an inaccurate impression of risk. Death rates are meaningless without a denominator. Airplane deaths have to be divided into the number of people who rode airplanes. Shark deaths have to be divided into the number of people who swam around in the water. I suspect that the sharks still come out ahead, but making the point with bad math is a bad habit that can come back to bite you when the quacks try to use the same tactic.

  2. idoubtit
    December 7, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    You are absolutely right. Car wrecks isn’t even on there! (though it merges with the texting and deer and possibly Black Friday numbers) That graphic is somewhat deceiving also in that other factors in the deaths are not taken into account.

    But it is good perspective to show us that we have a completely unreasonable fear of sharks.

  3. Massachusetts
    December 8, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    While snorkeling in the caribbean I was told not to worry if I saw a shark because it would most likely have no interest in me.

  4. Massachusetts
    December 8, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    I think if people went swimming every day but quit smoking they would greatly improve their survival chances.

  5. scott mardis
    December 8, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    That Oregonian attack sounds like the work of a Great White, maybe a moderate-sized one.They are known to slap the water with their tail and one of their methods of attack is to come in and bite, wait for their prey to bleed to death and then the shark comes in to eat without a struggle.Another notorious palce for shar kattacks is the so-called ” Red Triangle “. It extends from San Francisco Bay to the Farallon Islands to Santa Cantalina island.One thing the ” Red Triangle ” , Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and South Africa all have in common are large seal colonies. Seals are one of the chief prey items of big Great Whites.

  6. idoubtit
    December 8, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    Good point!

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