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Shark attacks relatively rare in Texas

Since the start of the 21st century, reports of shark attacks in Texas continue to peak, with 27 attacks reported since 2000.

HOUSTON — News of a shark attack off Crystal Beach Thursday spread quickly and rattled the nerves of many beachgoers.

RELATED: Shark bites man off Crystal Beach

While there have been a bunch of shark sightings and sharks caught on Texas beaches this summer, shark bites are relatively rare here -- especially in areas where people congregate.

Alice Jensen shot this photo of a shark caught near San Luis Pass in June 2018. It was later released. (Alice Jensen photo)

According to the Shark Attack Database, since 1865, there have been 65 (today's attack would make it 66) confirmed shark attacks recorded in the state of Texas, including 58 unprovoked and seven provoked attacks. Of these attacks, only five unprovoked attacks were fatal.

Early reports indicate Thursday's attack was unprovoked but that's not official yet.

The earliest recorded shark attack in Texas was on July 18, 1865 when a man was fatally attacked while bathing in the water of the Brazos.

Credit: Homer, Michelle
Poco Cedillo caught this monster hammerhead shark off the coast of South Padre Island. (South Texas Fishing Association)

There would be three more recorded attacks in the late -- 19th century, none of which were fatal.

In July of 1904, Chester Kennedy was swimming on the Gulf Coast and was fatally attacked by a shark. His body was never recovered.

Less than a decade later, 1911 became the first year to see two recorded shark attacks.

The second happened in September, when John Blomquist jumped into the waters near Galveston to assist a friend and was attacked by a shark. Blomquist became the third person in Texas to die from an unprovoked shark attack.

In 1937, Hal Thompson Jr., 14, was killed while swimming off the Galveston coast. He is likely the youngest person in Texas history to die from an unprovoked shark attack.

After Thompson's death, shark attacks became even more rare in Texas, with only two unprovoked shark attacks happening between 1938 and 1961. Neither of those attacks proved fatal.

In 1948, a C47, piloted by Neil Womack, crashed into the gulf between Brownsville, Texas and Carmen, Mexico. Womack, who was injured in the crash, took refuge in a life raft with his copilot Esteban de Leon.

According to de Leon, Womack fell out of the raft a few days after the crash and was killed by sharks that had gathered around the raft.

Credit: Thinkstock

However, Womack's death is not counted in official in the Shark Attack Database.

But in August of 1962, 40-year-old Hans Fix was surf fishing in waste deep water off Padre Island when he was bitten on the right leg by a shark. Fix would become the last recorded shark attack fatality in Texas.

Reports of shark attacks began to peak in the 80s. Between April and July of 1987 there were three recorded attacks off Mustang Island State Park.

Since the start of the 21st century, reports of shark attacks in Texas continue to peak, with 27 attacks reported since 2000. However, none of the attacks have been fatal.

The busiest year of recorded shark attacks in recent history was 2011, where there were five recorded shark attacks. Two of those attacks occurred on July 7, one off Mustang Island while the other was near Sunday County.

A 13-year-old boy was bitten by a shark on a Galveston beach in 2015.

And the database's most recent Texas case was in June of 2016 when a six-year-old girl was bitten on the leg while floating in a tube off Pirates Beach.

This summer, there have been several sharks spotted on Texas beaches. A man caught a large shark off Crystal Beach last month after his young daughter told him she wanted a shark for her birthday.

A woman reeled in a good-sized shark in Freeport in early July.

VIDEO: Woman catches shark in Freeport

And several average-size sharks have been caught in Galveston, including one on San Luis Pass.

VIDEO: Man reels in shark in Galveston

VIDEO: Shark caught on San Luis Pass

The biggest Texas shark we've seen in recent years was a huge 14-foot hammerhead caught off South Padre Island. It's the stuff of nightmares!

Still, the likelihood of being attacked by a shark is extremely rare, especially when compared to the volume of swimmers and people using the waters where sharks may inhabit. And when you compare the number of shark attacks worldwide to the number of attacks on sharks by humans, the number is also skewed.

According to a 2015 article by USA Today, around 100 million sharks are killed each year due to fishing or other human interactions. Meanwhile, in 2014, only 52 people were killed worldwide in shark attacks, less than those killed by bees or snakes.

In fact, more people are killed in lightning strikes by the shore than by shark attacks.

But for some, these statistics are mute. As long as there is a possibility of an attack, they will keep their feet dry while on the beach.

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