Beel den Stormer Presents the Only Fishery Blog You Need

Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics

Measuring Interest in Shark Attacks With Google

In recent weeks and months, there have been a number of well publicized shark attacks, in the USA, Australia, and South Africa. Beel’s general sense of this is there are more shark attacks in Australia, but those in South Africa generally are more severe.  So, Beel cruised on over to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File for some information.

This graphic shows there is a greater number of reported attacks in Australia (329) than in South Africa (276), as Beel suspected.  But the greatest number of attacks is reported from the USA (836).  The greater number of shark attack reports in USA may be due a higher population or a greater prevalence of what Charles Barkley calls “turrible knuckleheads.”  Beel favors the latter hypothesis.

Beel also examined the number of shark attacks worldwide to look at the incidence of attacks from 2000 to 2010 and the rate of mortality from attacks. The number of attacks varied from 53 to 80 per year, and the proportion of fatal attacks usually was less than 10%.

Looking at the data for Australia and South Africa separately, Beel found 120 attacks, with 13 fatalities, were reported in Australia during 2000-2010 (=10.8% fatal), whereas there were 41 attacks and 8 fatalities reported from South Africa (19.5% fatal).  So, shark attacks in South Africa are twice as likely to be fatal as they are in Australia.

Given these findings, Beel was curious about international interest (Google queries) in shark attacks.  Beel used Google Insights for Search to look for queries on “shark attack” and presents the results below. 

There generally is only a very low baseline of searches for shark attack, with occasional spikes, which clearly relate to publicized attacks.  It hard to see too much here, other than that there is greatest interest in shark attacks in South Africa (blue line), probably because these attacks are more likely to be fatal.  Note that the peaks in interest in South African searches peak during the southern summer.  Mean interest in shark attacks decreases from South Africa (10), Australia (7), New Zealand (5), and the USA (3) and United Kingdom (3).

To give better resolution to the the latter four countries, Beel performed this analysis, omitting South Africa, let Beel present  the results.

Not too much new.  Interest in Australia and New Zealand also are generally greatest in the southern summer, whereas peak interest in the USA generally is in the fall.

Beel apologizes to his friends for not posting yesterday.  Beel was a bit under the weather.


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This entry was posted on January 27, 2012 by in Commentary, Fish versus Man, Google Stuff and tagged , , , , , .
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