Shark attack increase: AFP blames "global warming"

Now with added global warming

UPDATE: George Burgess responds to ACM (see below).

Crap Journalism Alert. This is the kind of nonsense the brainless media sucks up, like a demented vacuum cleaner:

Sharks killed twice as many swimmers and surfers last year than in 2010, with the increase due largely to a growth in tourism and changing shark patterns due to global warming.

There were 12 deaths in 46 shark attacks in 2011, a mortality rate of more than 25 percent compared to an average of under seven percent in the last 10 years, according to statistics from the University of Florida.

Countries that recorded shark attack deaths included Australia with three fatal out of a total of 11 attacks; South Africa, two fatal out of five; the French island of Reunion, two deaths in four attacks; and Seychelles with two attacks both of which ended in death.

Other countries with non-fatal shark attacks included Indonesia (3), Mexico (3), Russia (3) and Brazil (2).

Three locations not normally associated with high numbers of shark attacks — Reunion, Seychelles and New Caledonia — registered a total of seven attacks with five fatal outcomes, according to Burgess. “Those areas were not traditional area for tourism in recent years,” the scientist explained.

“Over the last decade, more and more tourists have been going there… So we are getting more people coming to places where there are sharks, and the local communities are not prepared for the number of people going into the water at this time.”

He added that medical facilities in these areas may not be developed enough to provide treatment in emergencies of this type.

In addition to the influx of tourists, the effects of global warming has meant sharks migrating to regions where they were not normally seen.

Last August, authorities even in the far east Russian reported three non-fatal shark attacks in the Primorye region — not a normal location for the predator. (source)

Yet when we check the original report, we find that there isn’t a single mention of climate change or global warming. In fact, they acknowledge (as they should) that this is more likely to be a statistical anomaly than any kind of trend:

Twelve fatalities resulted from unprovoked attacks in 2011, considerably higher than totals from recent years (the 2001-2010 yearly average was 4.3) and the highest yearly total since 1993 (also 12). These unprovoked fatalities were recorded from Australia (3), Costa Rica (1), Kenya (1), New Caledonia (1), Reunion (2), the Seychelles (2), and South Africa (2). The annual fatality rate was 16%, similar to the 1990’s average of 13%, but higher than the 6.7% average of the first decade of this century. The trend in fatality rate has been one of constant reduction over the past 11 decades, reflective of advances in beach safety practices and medical treatment, and increased public awareness of avoiding potentially dangerous situations. 

This year’s higher rate no doubt is a statistical anomaly based in part on where the serious attacks occurred geographically. The unusually low proportion of attacks occurring in the United States, particularly in Florida, and a jump in attacks in non-U.S. locales not blessed with as highly-developed safety and medical personnel and facilities lead to an unusually high number of deaths. The fatality rate in the U.S. was zero, elsewhere it was nearly 25%. This contrast highlights the need for increasing efforts to improve beach safety, including education of the public about the risk of sharks, providing well-trained lifeguards, and advancing emergency care and medical capabilities.  

In fact, shark-human interactions have declined in the last decade, and they cite a number of reasons for this:

  • less people in the water
  • less sharks in the water
  • humans getting smarter about dealing with sharks when they’re in the water,

and not a single mention of climate change or global warming.

The original article was written by AFP, an organisation that loves to plug climate alarmism, so they insert “global warming” into a story to sex it up, despite no mention of it being made by the scientist responsible. And because it is an agency piece, it is regurgitated the world over by all the national media organisations.

UPDATE: I emailed George Burgess for his reaction to this story. He commented that the original headline was misleading on both counts (tourism and global warming) but asked the following comment to be published, set out below (emphasis his):

“My concern is over poor journalism, not whether or not global climate change is real.  From a scientific perspective, it is.  We are seeing lots of biological effects associated with warming water temperatures, including distributional changes in some sharks and many other marine species.  As some of these sharks move into higher latitudes they have and will continue to come in contact with more humans (which also are more likely to enter the water in these areas as water temperatures become more tolerable) and we might expect to see a small rise in attacks in some areas that formerly had none (as we saw this year in Russia).  No cause for panic, but check back in about ten years to see how the pattern goes, by then we’ll know better if there was a trend or simply normal variation that occurs in the natural system.”

We are not disputing that the climate is changing – we do dispute attribution, something not raised here. Furthermore AFP’s use of “global warming” in this article as a hook to lure the unsuspecting is, as Burgess states, simply poor journalism.


  1. Shark attacks casued by Global Warming!, Classic Greeenies bollocks!

  2. Hey was that Fat Al in the Shark suit in Jaws! They do look a lot alike!

  3. Dan Harlow Chapman via Facebook says:


  4. I’m tired today………I know! I’ll blame global warming!!!

  5. I wonder if shark numbers have increased with the increase in marine parks….a green initiative.

  6. Alarmists often take one data point and turn it into a trend. We should feel lucky they’ve used two, here.

  7. Danielle Anstee via Facebook says:

    I thought sharks preferred colder water (well great whites do at least)

  8. ….anything to brainwash the sheeople – all means justify the ends for these alarmists….

    Scientists have predicted through modelling that unless drastic action is taken to avert human induced ……………………………………… (insert event here … ie: climate change / rising sea levels / coral degradation / climate refugees / melting ice-caps / shark attacks / famine), more catastrophic consequences will result that will have serious impacts on the human race. Current modelling trends suggest …………………………….. (insert predictions here … ie: increased human deaths / catastrophic sea level inundation / increased cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons / polar bear deaths). Only through the implementation of ………………………….. (insert action here … ie: a carbon tax / emission reductions / further mitigation / IPCC recommendations), will we be able to protect our children and future generations from the impending consequences of our current greedy unsustainable lifestyle.

  10. Let me guess AGW is to blame for the Suns increase in solar activity. If a CME hits a country, it’s because of high carbon pollution there, CME’s are directed towards carbon! OMG Doom!

  11. Lew Skannen says:

    18 January 2012 – Redhead Beach, near Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia – surfer attacked

    19 January 2012 – The Lagoon, Coral Bay, Western Australia – snorkeller attacked

    This means that in the second half of January shark attacks were running at about 365 per year!!

    This is up from Australias usual average of a few dozen a year.
    Something must be done! We do not have time to research the causes we just need to do something NOW!!
    Anyone who even dares to question the need to combat carbon is basically a deranged shark sympathising child killer.

  12. The Loaded Dog says:

    I knew it….

    It’s the warmening….

    We’re done for…

  13. Rosie Gordon via Facebook says:


  14. A whole new level of stupid!

  15. That is truly laughable…..these crooks will grab every possible opportunity to point the finger anywhere but at the truth.

  16. What’s really disturbing from the original report, apart from the fact that there was never any mention about global warming causing the 75 ‘unprovoked’ shark attacks, is that there were 29 ‘provoked’ shark attacks!

    • The Loaded Dog says:

      Oh dear. One must assume that Global Warming causes humans to “provoke” sharks as well…

  17. They are protected hence the number increases. Also the number of whales increases due to their protection ( and don’t get me started on the Sea Shepherd idiots ). I surf and that concerns me a lot. Most of surfers are brainwashed by green loonies that ” sharks don’t eat humans” crap and they buy it. If the sharks don’t eat meat and bones what else they eat then ? I don’t hear of any attacks from the places where they aren’t protected.

  18. Does this mean that if there are less shark attacks & less fatalities this year we can assume that global warming has stopped? Makes sense to me.

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