Australia tops the table for shark fatalities

QUEENSLAND has some of the safest waters in the country despite the fact Australia recorded the highest number of fatal shark bites globally over the past three decades.

A Bond University report shows there have been 32 fatal shark bites that had been documented in Australia between 1982 and 2011.

South Africa registered 28 fatalities and the United States 25 fatalities over the same period.

Research shows Queensland is one of the safer states.

Associate Professor Daryl McPhee, who undertook the research, said there was a total of 171 unprovoked bites in Australia during that period compared with 769 in the United States and 132 in South Africa.

"Of the six countries where shark bites are most prevalent Australia actually recorded the fourth lowest percentage of bites that were fatal at 18.7% despite having the highest number of total fatalities," he said.

Associate Professor McPhee said the high number of fatalities in shark bite victims in Australia could be attributed to a number of factors.

"Australians have an obvious love and affinity with the water, so the high level of usage undoubtedly plays a part," he said.

"The type and size of sharks found in Australian waters is also believed to be a factor," he said.

"The white shark was behind the highest number of unprovoked shark bites globally and they are prevalent here."

"Where the species responsible could be identified, the white shark was responsible for 41 of the 171 recorded bites over the period of the study, with 46.3% of these proving fatal.

"White, tiger and bull sharks were behind the majority of unprovoked bites."

There were some shark attacks in canal waters on the Gold Coast.

Regions where shark bites have been more frequent include the stretch of West Australian coastline from Perth to Margaret River, the greater Sydney region and the NSW mid-north coast as well as parts of South Australia.