Photo: Swell Brains

Are you one of those people who can’t go surfing without thinking about sharks? Or maybe you suffer from that totally irrational ‘there’s a shark in the swimming pool’ sensation? Then you might not want to go surfing in these places.

Last year, 72 people were attacked by sharks, 5of which were fatal.

However, when you compare this to the number of people killed by dogs last year (364 in the USA alone) it does put it into perspective. Plus when you look at the number of sharks killed by humans per year, it’s off the chart.

1. Réunion Island, Indian Ocean
Second Beach on Reunion Island has had more shark attacks in the past 10 years than anywhere else on earth. Eight fatalities in five years.

In fact, there have been so many shark attacks in the area that the government have banned surfing and swimming off the beach altogether.

The reasons for the sudden increase in aggressive shark activity is unclear. Some think it’s the new marine reserve on the west side of the island that’s attracted more sharks. Others think there is more waste entering the water than before.

Either way, we probably wouldn’t recommend breaking local laws for a private surf here…

2. New Smyrna Beach, Florida, USA
New Smyrna Beach in Florida was labelled by the International Shark Attack File as the sharkiest place on earth. There have been 257 attacks as of last year, with more than 12 in 2008 alone.

However, unlike Reunion Island, there’s never been an actual fatality here. You’ve just got to watch out for getting nipped.

3. Bolinas, California, USA
Bolinas in California forms part of the Red Triangle, an area between San Francisco, past the Farallon Islands down to Monterey in Big Sur nicknamed for its abundance of marine life. So with the seals and fish comes an influx of shark.

38 per cent of shark attacks in the US have happened here. That’s 11 per cent of attacks worldwide.
It’s also home to numerous world-class surf breaks alongside Bolinas including Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay and the infamous Mavericks. It’s not surprising that sharks have mistaken surfers for seals around here in their time.

4. Recife, Brazil
Beyond the buzzing streets and towering skyscrapers lies the waters around the Brazilian city of Recife, known for the greatest number of shark attacks in the country.

59 people have been attacked here since 1992. Prior to that, there were next to no attacks. Like Reunion Island, surfing is now banned as many blamed surfers as the cause of increased shark activity (the cheek!)
In fact, many believe it to be the building of the nearby Suape Port that diverted bull sharks into the beach region where surfers and swimmers hang out.

5. Hawaii, USA
Up until 2012, there had been 116 unprovoked shark attacks in Hawaii. 2013 saw a bout of 13 attacks in one year.

With the increase of visitors to the Hawaiian islands comes a greater risk of shark attacks. Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm to a tiger shark aged 13 while surfing with her childhood friend Alana Blanchard on the island of Kauai.

Best to avoid the water around dawn or dusk when it’s shark feeding time.