Three shark species attacked swimmers in central Vietnam: study

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Vietnamese scientists have identified three shark species that have attacked people at least ten times off the coast of Binh Dinh Province's Quy Nhon Town from 2009-2010.

According to a report released by the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute on July 13, a pigeye shark (Carcharhinus amboinensis) attacked Nguyen Quang Huynh on July 18, 2009 causing a deep cut in his foot. Huynh was swimming some 150 meters off shore.

A blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) attacked Mang Duc Hanh on January 9, 2010 when he was swimming just ten meters from shore. Hanh suffered severe injury in his hand.

Meanwhile, the graceful shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchoides) may be responsible for eight other attacks.

Vo Si Tuan, deputy director of the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute, who led the research team, said the sea off the coast of Quy Nhon Town is the natural habitat of several tropical sharks that often search for food near the shore.

"The Quy Nhon Bay offers easy access for sharks to swim near the shore," he said.

Tuan said nearby lobster farms have also attracted hungry sharks to the area while the El Nino (from July 2009 to June 2010) increased the water's temperature and solidity causing many sharks to mistake human beings as prey.

The report proposed solutions like moving lobster farms farther away from beaches and creating a protective the swimming zone enclosed by a large net.

According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), the 79 unprovoked attacks of 2010 was the highest total since 2000, when 80 attacks were recorded. 

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"The number of shark-human interactions occurring in a given year is directly correlated to the amount of time humans spend in the sea. As world population continues its upsurge and interest in aquatic recreation concurrently rises, we realistically should expect increases in the number of shark attacks and other aquatic recreation-related injuries," it said.

As in recent years, North American waters had the most unprovoked attacks in 2010 with 32. Elsewhere, 14 attacks occurred in Australia, eight in South Africa, six in Vietnam and Egypt, with a single incidents occurring of the coast of the Bahamas, Brazil, Fiji, Madagascar, Mascarene Islands, Solomon Islands, Canary Islands, Tonga and the United Arab Emirates.

Surfers, swimmers and waders were the recreational groups most often involved in shark attacks in 2010 as those involved in snorkeling, scuba diving and those using inflatable rafts and inner-tubes were less likely to become victims of shark attacks.

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