FLORIDA (WKRG) — The number of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide decreased last year, tying with 2020 for the fewest number of reported incidents in the last 10 years, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. But the State of Florida still leads the world in bites.

The study said there were a total of 57 unprovoked bites in 2022, most of which occurred in the United States and Australia. 

“Generally speaking, the number of sharks in the world’s oceans has decreased, which may have contributed to recent lulls” said Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Florida Program for Shark Research. “It’s likely that fatalities are down because some areas have recently implemented rigorous beach safety protocols, especially in Australia.”

For decades, Florida has topped global charts in the number of shark bites, and this trend continued in 2022. Florida’s 16 cases represent 39 percent of the U.S. total and 28 percent of unprovoked bites worldwide. This is lower than Florida’s most recent five-year annual average of 22 incidents.

Volusia County had the most shark bites with seven, representing 44 percent of the state’s total. This represents a decrease from the five-year annual average of nine incidents in the area; however, Volusia County experiences considerable variation in the number of bites from one year to the next. Of the nine remaining bites, four occurred in Monroe, and single incidents were reported in Martin, Nassau, Pinellas, Brevard and Palm Beach counties.

None of Florida’s 16 unprovoked bites were fatal, but two required medical treatment resulting in amputations. A woman snorkeling in the Dry Tortugas early in the year was notably bitten by a lemon shark, which rarely attack humans. The incident marked only the 11th known unprovoked attack from this species.

On New Year’s Day, a spear fisher from Pensacola had a close encounter with a Mako shark.

“I was the prey, there was no mistaken identity,” Chad Patti said. “It’s not like he bumped me checking me out, he crushed my fin. You can see he has the fin in his mouth, and you can see his jaw and gills tense up. Later in the video you can see he still has a piece of the fin in his mouth trying to figure out if it is food or not.”

Despite the incident, Patti said he will continue to spearfish.

According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death worldwide, and coastal features like rip tides and strong currents pose a greater risk to beachgoers than sharks.

To read the entire ISAF 2022 shark attack report, click here.