BRAZIL: Beach in the Brazilian town of Refice home to more than 3 million residents.
BRAZIL: Beach in the Brazilian town of Refice home to more than 3 million residents. Victor R Caivano

Our shark problem is not world's worst

SHARK beaches: Contrary to popular belief, the NSW North Coast's deadly shark attack problem is not unprecedented, nor is it the worst in the world.

There are stretches of coastline in South Africa, Reunion Island and Brazil which are notorious for sharks. They make for scary reading.

And judging by the statistics, you'd rather have a white shark problem than a bull shark problem.

Second Beach, Port St Johns, South Africa: Eight fatal attacks in six years

There have been two fatal attacks and two serious attacks between Byron Bay and Evans Head in the last 12 months since British expat Paul Wilcox was killed off Main Beach in September 9 last year.

Yet a single beach on the stunning Wild Coast region of South Africa - Second Beach at Port St Johns - has claimed eight lives in the past six years.

South Africa is most famed for its surface-breaching great white sharks, but its lush east coast is also teeming with bull sharks - they're called Zambezi sharks there, after the Zambezi River.

Second Beach is a stunning tourist haven - perhaps even eclipsing the North Coast for the beauty of its scenery - but its reputation for fatal shark attacks in often waist-deep water is unprecedented.

All have been attributed to bull sharks.

REUNION ISLAND: Graffiti reading
REUNION ISLAND: Graffiti reading "shark’s area" on an information board, off Saint-Leu. RICHARD BOUHET

Reunion Island: Seven fatal attacks in four years

It's the recent spate of deadly and limb-losing attacks off the beautiful Reunion Island which is probably best compared to even more horrendous version of what the North Coast has suffered of late.

It was a surfers' paradise before the shark attacks began in 2011.

As they continued surf schools started to close - today just one is operating where once there were 14.

Local authorities have banned swimming and surfing outside of monitored area, and the island now even sends its most promising surfers to train overseas.

A controversial marine park surrounds the island.

SOUTH AFRICA: A shark spotter raises the high shark alert flag on Muizenburg beach, near Cape Town.
SOUTH AFRICA: A shark spotter raises the high shark alert flag on Muizenburg beach, near Cape Town. RODGER BOSCH

Recife, Brazil: 22 fatal attacks in the last 20 years

Recife is the one place on this list you might say hasn't suffered from just a spike in shark attacks - no, in Recife, deadly and limb-losing attacks are just the normal state of affairs.

Brazil's fifth largest city, a stretch of sand and skyscrapers in north-eastern Brazil not unlike the Gold Coast, is sadly one of the worst shark attack zones in the world.

It has seen 57 attacks in the last 20 years, of which 22 have been fatal.

Compare that to Sydney, which hasn't had a fatal attack since 1963 - although that's probably because people learned to stop swimming in Sydney Harbour.


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