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Fatal shark attacks in 2011 at 20-year high


As officials in the Seychelles hunt to to destroy the vicious shark they think killed two tourists, newlywed Gemma Redmond describes her husband's "awful" screams before his death. NBC's Stephanie Gosk reports.


Fatal shark attacks across the globe reached a 20-year high in 2011, researchers reported Tuesday, while attacks in the U.S. were the lowest over the last decade and none were fatal.

Many of the 12 fatal attacks were "in essentially out-of the way places, where there’s not the same quantity and quality of medical attention readily available,” George Burgess, director of the shark files compiled at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said in a statement issued with the report. "They also don’t have histories of shark attacks in these regions, so there are not contingency plans in effect like there are in places such as Florida."

Overall attacks were about average at 75 globally last year -- 29 of them in the U.S.

Fatalities were in Australia (3), the Reunion Islands (2), the Seychelle Islands (2), South Africa (2), Costa Rica (1), Kenya (1) and New Caledonia (1). The 2001-2010 average was 4.3 deaths, and 12 deaths hadn't been reported in any year since 1993.

"From the U.S. perspective," Burgess stated, "things have never been better; our attack and fatality rates continue to decline," adding that it could be fewer Americans are taking beach vacations because of the long recession.

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