ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Seventy-nine shark attacks 10 of them fatal were reported around the world last year, the highest number in the four decades that records have been kept.

Florida was No. 1 with 34 attacks, according to a report released yesterday by the International Shark Attack File. The file is a compilation of unprovoked shark attacks since 1958 and is at the University of Florida at Gainesville.

Florida also had the lone U.S. death, which occurred in August in St. Petersburg when a man jumped off his dock.

Florida “has a huge number of people in the water and the number of person-hours in the water is probably higher than anywhere in the world,” said George Burgess, director of the file. “We have a tremendously long coastline with tropical waters, a huge native population and a bigger tourist population.”

Of the other fatal attacks, three occurred in Australia, two in Tanzania and one each in Fiji Japan New Guinea and New Caledonia.

“There is a much better chance of getting struck by lightning than being attacked by a shark,” said Gary Violetta, curator of fishes at SeaWorld Orlando.

The United States had 51 attacks, followed by Australia with seven, South Africa with five and the Bahamas with four. In the United States, Florida was followed by North Carolina (5), California (3), Alabama (2), Hawaii (2) and Texas (2).

Fifty-eight attacks were reported in 1999.

More people spending longer hours in the water and a growing number of tourists swimming in exotic, unfamiliar locales have contributed to the increase, even though there are fewer sharks than 20 years ago, Burgess said. In addition, more attacks are being reported because of the Internet.

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