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California Shark Attack Rates Plunge 90 Percent Since 1950s

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Posted at 9:10 PM, Jul 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-30 17:00:22-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- New research found swimmers and surfers today have been about 90 percent less likely to be attacked by sharks off California than they were in the 1950s -- even though there have been hundreds of thousands more people in the water.

The findings marked a stark contrast to recent headlines in North Carolina, where shark attacks this year have reached a record high.

Stanford researcher Francesco Ferretti said more study was needed to account for the apparent disparity.

Ferretti said although the reported number of attacks off California has risen slightly, the risk of attack there has plummeted over the past six decades. The decline likely has been the result of surging populations of sharks' prey, such as sea lions and elephant seals.

Researchers said there might also be fewer sharks in the water, though their populations have been hard to track. 

(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)