There have been an increased number of shark attacks in Australia this year, with three attacks occurring in the first three weeks of 2012. David Pickering, a 26-year-old snorkeling guide, was the latest victim of a shark attack on Thursday.
Pickering was leading a group of snorkelers, a couple and their two children, in a lagoon at Western Australia's Coral Bay, when he was attacked. A 10-foot tiger shark swam up to the snorkeling guide and sunk its teeth into his arms.
I turned around and boom, there he was, Pickering told The Associated Press. [The force] was enough to actually bring me forward and under him because I scraped my knee on his belly.
After the shark bit him, Pickering punched the animal with his other arm. The creature quickly backed off. The AP reports Pickering warned the other snorkelers to get out of the water and then swam 300 feet back to shore.
I'm pretty stoked that it happened to me and not one of those kids, he told the AP.
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The attack left Pickering with severe lacerations to his arm, but the injuries were non-life-threatening.
I'll definitely be back in the water - as soon as this bad boy is healed up, he said with a laugh.
Pickering's shark attack was the third of its kind this month in Australia, a nation which rarely sees more than three shark attacks each year.
Another victim, tattoo artist Glen Folkard, 44, was surfing Wednesday off Redhead Beach when a 6.5 foot shark attacked him in front of hundreds of swimmers. The shark dragged Folkard under water after taking a large bite of his thigh and board.
It was kind of like Jaws, you know, the scene at the start... where everybody's pulled out of the water and it's a hot day and the water's inviting, a witness told the Sydney Morning Herald.
My son actually said he saw the shark leap out of the water and grab a fish. The word is it was a bull shark, he said. Reports estimate that 500 people were on the beach at the time with approximately 100 swimmers in the water.
Another surfer was attacked by a shark at North Avoca beach in New South Wales on Jan. 3. The man, whose name has not been released, was bitten on his arm and wrist at approximately 8 p.m. Following the attack, the man swam to shore and was treated successfully by paramedics.
Although sharks are common in Australian waters, shark attacks are not. According to statistics from the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), there have only been 417 total attacks documented in Australia's history up until 2010, with 131 of the attacks being fatal. Shark attacks are far more common in the U.S. where there have been over 1,000 recorded shark attacks.
On average, there are around 60 shark attacks each year worldwide, but only a few of them result in fatalities. In 200, the year with the most documented shark attacks, there were 79 shark attacks reported worldwide, 11 of them fatal.
Nonetheless, a person's chance of getting attacked by a shark is slim. The likelihood of being attacked by a shark is 1 in 11.5 million and the chance of getting killed by one is less than 1 in 264.1 million. While over 3,000 people drown annually in the U.S., only 1 person on average is killed by a shark attack.