According to a piece in the New York Times, great white sharks are responsible for most overall shark attacks world wide as well as most fatal and unprovoked attacks.

There have been 5 fatal shark attacks off the coast of Western Australia in the past 10 months, sparking speculation that the population of great whites is increasing and discussion about removing the shark’s protected status. Great whites have been protected in Australia since 1999.

Despite the dangers that some varieties of sharks sometimes pose, experts recommend managing human behavior rather than reducing shark populations.

shark attack registry maintained by the University of Florida recorded 807 shark attacks worldwide from 2000 to 2011. Florida had by far the most, 281, but only four of those were fatalities. Australia had 141 attacks and 15 deaths. After that came South Africa (45 attacks), Hawaii (44) and California (36).

–New York Times

On the opposite side of the world, California environmentalists are trying to make great whites a protected species in their state as well as in the entire US. The northern California groups Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity would like great whites to be officially declared an endangered species.

Commercial and recreational fishing of great whites is already illegal in the state of California, but the groups are concerned about “incidental catches”. They would also like more research funding for the study of great whites.

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Numbers are difficult to determine, but recent studies concluded there are about 220 adults and near-adults near the Central Coast region, and fewer than 400 statewide. The International Union for Conservation of Nature regards them as a vulnerable species, one step above endangered.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.