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Pacifica shark attack: why we don't need to be afraid

Pacifica shark attack: Shark attacks are on the rise, but odds of becoming a shark attack victim are still very close to nil.

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A great white shark near Mexico drags buoys after taking bait.

Chris Ross/Chris Fischer/National Geographic Channel

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A shark attacked a kayaker near Pacifica State Beach in Pacifica, Calif., on Tuesday, the latest victim in a rising tally of shark attacks that likely has less to do with burgeoning shark aggression and more to do with more aggressive media coverage of shark incidents.

The victim, Micah Flansburg, was fishing some 100 yards off from the beach at 3:30 p.m. when a Great White shark rose up under the boat and then took it in its teeth. The man was frightened, but unharmed.

"It was intense. It was just like the Discovery Channel where you see the eyes roll to the back of the head and the pink gums and his teeth bared," Mr. Flansburg told ABC.

Shark attack news reached a decade high in 2012, with about 80 unprovoked shark attack reports worldwide, seven of which were fatal. Some eight of those attacks were off the US Pacific coast and another 26 were in Florida, the state that accounts for about half of all shark attacks in the United States, mostly because that state’s appealing beaches are so heavily trafficked. North America as a whole also accounts for about half of all shark attacks worldwide, but researchers are unsure what combination of meteorological, oceanographic, economic, and social factors are to blame for that trend.

Attacks that are considered provoked, such as when a shark attacks someone trying to pet or fish it, are not included in those tallies. Attacks on already drowned humans are also not included.

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