Shark Attacks Making Headlines

While it's probably too early to call for a "bigger boat" just yet, there have been a variety of shark reports stirring up the headlines recently.

Last weekend the U.S. Coast Guard issued a shark warning to kayakers, swimmers and anglers headed for costal waters stretching from Maine to New Jersey, even though shark attacks in that region are almost unheard of.

"I have no doubt that a great white shark that swims into your comfort zone would surely find a splashing paddle or dangling hand inviting," Coast Guard spokesman Al Johnson wrote. "I also expect that same passing shark would spend little time differentiating between boater, paddler and prey."

Recent sightings of great white sharks in the area prompted the warning. Tuna fishermen caught and released a seven-foot juvenile great white shark off the coast of Massachusetts and a handful of sharks were spotted cruising near the Hamptons. Last summer a couple large great whites were spotted off Cape Cod.

Similar news is being made in the Pacific. A warning like the one in the northeast was issued last week for Santa Barbara Island in southern California after three great white sharks were spotted chowing down on sea lions.

And there have been more than just shark sightings. A 6-year-old South Carolina girl and a 13-year-old North Carolina girl were attacked by sharks two weeks ago. In June, an 18-year-old girl was bitten by a shark in Georgia. Luckily all the girls survived.

On average, about 40 people are attacked by sharks each year in the United States. And that number has been gradually increasing over the past century even though worldwide shark populations have greatly decreased, according to the International Shark File. Does this mean that sharks are growing a sweet tooth for people? Probably not. Most experts attribute the increase in attacks to a larger number of people spending more time on the water.

So what's the big takeaway here? Any saltwater could be shark water and plan accordingly.