Shark attacks on humans are at a record number with scientists concluding people interfering with the ocean beasts' environment is the main reason for the rise.

Last year, there were 98 unprovoked shark attacks around the world, six of those fatal.

That's 10 more than the previous record of 88 in 2000.

Scuba diver and grey shark. picture / 123RF
Scuba diver and grey shark. picture / 123RF

Researchers at Bond University in Queensland have looked at areas where shark attacks are most common, reported The Australian.

Advertisement

Their studies, published in the Ocean & Coastal Management journal, showed that 84 per cent of attacks occurred in six areas - the United States, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, the Bahamas and the [Indian Ocean] island of Reunion.

In the Bahamas, one factor in attacks was the rise in careless shark diving and handfeeding.

Off Reunion, shark populations surged after hunting them was banned - which researchers said could have led to food shortages for the sharks. It coincided with an increase in scuba diving.

Great white shark. picture / 123RF
Great white shark. picture / 123RF

More than half the attacks happened in America, with the majority in Florida, in particular around the city of Daytona on surfing beaches.

Dredging and pollutants washing off the land, in a key breeding area, had disrupted the sharks' ecology and feeding patterns, the study suggested.

A boom also in surfing occurred at the same time.

In New Zealand, the most recent fatal shark attack was in 2013 at Muriwai, a beach in West Auckland.

Recorded shark attacks in New Zealand to 2014