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Information about the Shark Attack File


The origin of the Shark Attack File dates from the establishment of the Shark Research Panel by the Office of Naval Research in June 1958. The Panel, consisting of 34 internationally recognized scientists known for their knowledge of sharks, was assembled to consider basic research approaches to development of better ways to protect Navy personnel from shark attacks. One of the Panel's first acts was to create the Shark Attack File with Dr.Leonard Schultz of the Smithsonian as its Principle Investigator.For the next nine years the Smithsonian, in collaboration with Cornell and the American Institute of Biological Sciences, collected data on some 1700 shark attacks. When funding for the project ended in 1967, the data was sent to the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, to be incorporated with their research data. The Smithsonian no longer keeps a record of shark attacks.

At Mote Marine Laboratory, the data from 1165 reported attacks and case histories, (now known as the Shark Attack File) was analyzed in a report titled, Shark Attack Against Man: A Program of Data Reduction and Analysis by H. David Baldridge, Oct. 31, 1973.

This report is a computer analysis of the existence or absence of common factors associated with known instances of predaceous shark behavior. It includes analysis of a report from as far back as 1580, but more than two-thirds of the reports are from attacks that occurred after 1940. None are reported for the period during World War II. Mote Marine Laboratory provided the material, administrative, and technical support for the data reduction phase of preparing the report; the U.S. Navy, Office of Naval Research Oceanic Biology Program funded the project.

A popular version of the report, Shark Attack, also by H. David Baldridge was published in 1974 by Berkeley Medallion Books of New York. It remains a good source of information for details of some 200 attacks and can be obtained at local libraries or requested through an interlibrary loan.

In the 1980's the Shark Attack File was transferred to the National Underwater Accident Data Center at the University of Rhode Island under the direction John J. MacAniff. Currently, the American Elasmobranch Society has undertaken the responsibility for maintaining, expanding, and analyzing shark attack data. The files are under the direction of George Burgess, International Shark Attack File, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611. The data base utilized by Baldridge in his 1974 analysis of shark attacks is currently being computerized and hopefully will be accessible within a year. Requests for access to the original files will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Shark Attack Committee. Requests should be directed to George H. Burgess at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Supplemental records of shark attacks are also kept by the California Department of Fish and Game and the Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu, Hawaii.


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