Interacting with a shark is probably not on any beachgoer’s to-do list, but 53 people have the distinction of being bitten by sharks in 2017 while in U.S. coastal waters. That’s according to the International Shark Attack File, produced by Florida Museum of Natural History researchers who describe it as the “world’s only scientifically documented, comprehensive database of all known shark attacks.” The United States led the world in this category last year, with 60 percent of the globe’s 88 unprovoked shark attacks. Five were fatal, none of them in U.S. waters. Among the states, the most shark attacks occurred in Florida (31), with other victims in waters off South Carolina (10), Hawaii (6), California (2) and Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and Massachusetts (1 apiece). Most likely to be attacked were surfers and other board-sport participants (59 percent of U.S. attacks in 2017), followed by swimmers and waders (22 percent). About 5 percent of attacks last year were on people frolicking in shallow water. Although the odds of being attacked by a shark are low, to keep them that way remember a few tips: Avoid swimming early in the morning or late at night, when many sharks feed; don’t go in the water if you’re bleeding (and get out immediately if you get cut); avoid bright-colored swimwear and diving gear; leave shiny jewelry on the beach; and swim in a group, reasonably close to shore (and to rescue, should that be needed). Oh, and if sharks have been sighted, stay on the beach.

— Linda Searing