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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Documenting Shark Attacks

If one encounters a shark, the International Shark Attack File maintained by the American Elasmobranch Society at the Florida Museum of Natural History of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida conducts an investigation.

Under the direction of George Burgess, the International Shark Attack File is a compilation of all known shark attacks worldwide. It is administered through the auspices of the American Elasmobranch Society, an international organization of leading shark research scientists, and through the Florida Museum of Natural History.

The purpose of the File is to synthesize information surrounding shark attacks in order to gain scientific insight into this phenomenon. Scientific researchers and physicians utilize the File, and access to the data is granted only after careful screening by a scientific panel on a case-by-case basis.

Its questionnaire is submitted by the victim or others in the case of a fatal attack and includes the following questions:

( ) Fatal
( ) Non-fatal

( ) Male
( ) Female
( ) Caucasian/white
( ) Negroid/black
( ) Mongolian/Oriental
( ) Malayan/Polynesian
( ) Race unknown or other than above (specify if known)

Skin color:
( ) Light
( ) Dark
( ) Tan or equivalently colored naturally
( ) Unevenly tanned


( ) Solitary attacking shark sighted, no other sharks seen in area of attack
( ) Solitary attacking shark sighted, other shark (s) seen in area of attack
( ) More than one shark sighted and considered directly involved in attack

Total number of sharks sighted:

( ) The shark was not seen well enough to describe its appearance
( ) At least part of the shark was seen

Please describe with as much detail as possible what the shark(s) looked like (color, shape of body and fins, shape of teeth, etc).Use additional page(s) if necessary:

( ) Shark seen, but not sufficiently clear for evaluation of behavior

If shark was seen sufficiently clear for evaluation of behavior, please choose one action under each of the following categories:

Shark behavior prior to initial strike:
( ) Circling victim
( ) Following victim closely
( ) Shark in position between victim and barrier or obstacle/beach/reef/boat, etc.
( ) Shark not seen at all prior to contact with victim
( ) Straightaway approach to victim
( ) Straightway approach to victim, passed close by other(s) in water
( ) Swimming erratically
( ) Swimming normally
( ) Behavior unknown
( ) Other (please describe)

Shark behavior at time of initial strike:
( ) Attack did not occur in water
( ) Shark did not contact victim
( ) Minimum of turmoil, victim initially unaware of situation
( ) Sudden violent interaction between shark and victim
( ) Behavior unknown
( ) Other (please describe)

Shark behavior during subsequent strikes:

( ) Attack did not occur in water
( ) Shark made only one strike
( ) Shark made multiple/repeated deliberate strikes
( ) Frenzied behavior
( ) Released initial hold, quickly bit victim again
( ) Behavior unknown
( ) Other (please describe)

Shark behavior after final strike:
( ) Attack did not occur in water
( ) Shark remained attached to victim and had to be forcibly removed
( ) Shark remained in immediate area of attack
( ) Shark followed victim/rescuers towards shore
( ) Shark seen to leave area of attack
( ) Shark not seen after final strike
( ) Shark remained attached to victim after final strike, released hold without use of force by victim/rescuer(s)
( ) Behavior unknown
( ) Other (please describe)

Number of passes and/or number of strikes made by shark:

( ) The shark was not seen well enough to estimate it size
( ) The estimated total length of the shark was (________)


Emergency Treatment Facility
Follow-up Treatment Facility

Photos taken of victim's wounds before and/or after treatment?
(YES) (NO)

If yes, are you willing to send your photos to ISAF?

Are you willing to allow ISAF to view your medical records?
(YES) (NO)

Please describe the type of clothing and/or diving gear worn and used by the victim, including items such as jewelry, etc. Please indicate the color(s) and pattern(s) of clothing:

Please describe the type of gear used, including swim fins, face mask, snorkel, body board, surfboard, kite board, etc. Please be as descriptive as possible and clearly indicate color, pattern, size, length, and number of fins as applicable:

Choose all that apply:
( ) Victim’s blood
( ) Other human blood
( ) Wounded fish/blood
( ) Artificial light (indicate source)
( ) Porpoise
( ) Seal
( ) Fish
( ) Dog/Pet
( ) Other:

How long was the victim in the water prior to the attack?

Choose one activity in one of the following categories:

Wading/sitting activity in shallow water:
( ) Victim in shallow water, no specific activity information
( ) Wading
( ) Erratic splashing, horseplay, etc.
( ) Standing still on bottom
( ) Sitting on bottom
( ) Other shallow water activity than above

Surface activity:
( ) Aboard a boat
( ) Swimming
( ) Floating, little or no motion (including use of flotation gear)
( ) Treading water (including use of flotation gear)
( ) Snorkeling (including use of mask and fins with or without snorkel)
( ) Riding surfboard
( ) Sitting on surfboard with feet dangling
( ) Riding boogie board
( ) Aboard float, raft, innertube, etc.
( ) Body surfing, planing on waves
( ) Other surface activity than above (please list)

Subsurface activity:
( ) Subsurface or diving activity, no details
( ) SCUBA diving
( ) Free diving (no gear) or subsurface swimming
( ) Free diving with mask and/or fins, with or without snorkel
( ) Pearl diving
( ) Hard hat diving
( ) Other diving/subsurface activity than above (please list)

Water entry or exit other than wading:
( ) Entering water (jumping, diving, falling, etc.)
( ) Leaving water (ladder, side of boat, etc.)
( ) Entry or exit other than above (please list)

( ) Other person(s) were not nearby
( ) Normal bathing/swimming
( ) Splashing/horseplay, etc.
( ) Thrashing/flailing, etc.
( ) Diving/underwater activities
( ) Wading
( ) Unusually loud voices/noises
( ) Surfing, with or without board
( ) Other activity as specified:

Choose all that apply:

( ) No other persons were within 10 feet of victim
( ) The number of people within 10 feet of victim was (_________)
( ) No other persons were within 10-50 feet of victim
( ) The number of people within 10-50 feet of victim was (_________)
( ) No other persons were in general area of (more than 50 feet away from) victim
( ) The approximate number of people in general area of (more than 50 feet away from) victim was (_______); approximate distances from the victim: (________________________)

( ) No person(s) were fishing
( ) Victim was fishing
( ) Other persons were fishing nearby; approximate distance from victim: (________________)
( ) Fish being hooked
( ) Fish being netted
( ) Spearfishing
( ) Carrying/holding fish
( ) Other fishing activity as specified: ____________________________________________

( ) No defensive/diversionary actions taken
( ) Defensive/diversionary actions taken by victim
( ) Defensive/diversionary actions taken by rescuer(s)
( ) (Struck) (Kicked) (Poked) the (Eyes) (Gills) (Nose) (circle all actions that apply)
( ) Path blocked
( ) Other aggressive or defensive movements (please specify)

Describe the effectiveness/outcome of these actions:

Please describe the circumstances surrounding the attack, including as many details as possible. Use additional pages as necessary. Audio or video tape is acceptable but must be understandable.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

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