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Western Australia Shark Attacks: World’s No. 2 Hotspot

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 13, 2013 1:02 PM EST

Shark attacks in Western Australia is highly preventable if only people avoid areas and times where sharks are most common, according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File report as it listed the state Down Under as the world's number two hotspot for shark attacks.

In WA, "people have been getting hit in areas of known white shark abundance at times of the year when white shark numbers are at their highest. The responsibility is upon us, as humans, to avoid such situations or else pay the consequence," George Burgess, director of the Florida Program of Shark Research at Florida's Museum of Natural History, said.

Despite the media attention regarding incidents in WA that resulted in a government-sanctioned culling hunt for endangered white sharks, the state still experienced 14 attacks and two fatalities. Moreover, it is the second consecutive year that WA experienced multiple shark attacks, thus landing second place on the global shark attacks hot spots, an indication that it has developed "problematic situations."

This as two fatal attacks had followed three fatal attacks in the same state in 2011.

Another area that suffered multiple shark attacks is Reunion island in the Indian Ocean.

"Those two areas are sort of hot spots in the world," Mr Burgess said. "WA is a function of white shark incidents and Reunion is a function most likely of bull shark incidents."

Still, Mr Burgess clarified that "shark attack as a phenomenon is extremely uncommon, considering the millions of hours humans spend in the water each year," since shark attacks was usually due to increased population and changes in human behaviour.

"What I've seen in all situations when there's been a sudden upswing in an area is that human causative factors are involved, such as changes in our behaviour, changes in our abundance, or an overt shark-attracting product of something that we're doing," Mr. Burgess said.

Released on Monday, the report showed there occurred 80 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide in 2012, where majority or 53 cases happened in the United States.

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