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Journal Article


Lippmann J. Diving Hyperb. Med. 2018; 48(4): 224-228.


Corresponding author: P O Box 384, Ashburton, Victoria 3147, Australia,


(Copyright © 2018, South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society and European Underwater and Baromedical Society)






AIM: The aim of this study was to identify the number, location and characteristics associated with fatal shark attacks on divers in Australian waters from 1960 to 2017, inclusive.

METHODS: Searches were made of the Divers Alert Network Asia-Pacific Diving Mortality Database; the International Shark Attack File website; the Australian Shark Attack File and the Global Shark Attack File to identify cases of fatal shark attacks on divers in Australia. In addition, a systematic search of published medical and sporting literature was conducted to identify relevant reports. The data collected were scrutinised for relevance and duplication.

RESULTS: There were 187 recorded attacks on divers, comprising 112 snorkellers, 62 scuba divers and 13 on divers using surface-supplied breathing apparatus. These included 28 verified deaths: 13 involving snorkellers, eight involving scuba divers, and seven divers using surface-supply. The victims' ages ranged from 13-50 years (mean 31 years). All but three were males. The vast majority of attacks were by Carcharodon carcharias (Great White Shark).

CONCLUSION: Spearfishing and other seafood collection, as well as diving near fishing activities and/or seals, were identified as major risk factors. However, shark attacks on divers are relatively rare and represent only 3% of diving-related fatalities in Australia over this 57-year period.

Copyright: This article is the copyright of the authors who grant Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine a non-exclusive licence to publish the article in electronic and other forms.

Language: en


Deaths; Diving; Diving incidents; Injuries; Marine animals; Snorkelling; Spearfishing


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