Florida Shark Attacks
This post was updated June 8, 2017.
The following beach activities have higher fatality rates than shark attacks: getting hit in the head by a coconut, collapsing sand, driving to the beach, boating accidents, drowning, and injuries/fatalities from surfing. Yet, people tend to be terrified of sharks. I've collected some information about Florida shark attacks so that you don't have to live in fear or spend the rest of your life swimming only in chlorinated pools.
World's Most Dangerous Sharks
Four species of sharks account for the vast majority of fatal attacks on humans: bull shark, tiger shark, oceanic whitetip shark, and great white shark.
Sharks That Call Florida Home
Florida has seven common species of shark: blacktip shark, bonnethead shark, bull shark, great hammerhead shark, lemon shark, nurse shark, and tiger shark. That means that Florida has two of the world's most dangerous sharks. Fantastic.
Florida's Most Dangerous Beaches
The Florida counties with the most shark attacks include Volusia, Brevard, and Palm Beach. If you like vacationing in Destin and South Walton, you'll be happy to know we have some of the safest beaches in the state. In the past 135+ years, Okaloosa County has only reported four shark attacks, and none were fatal. Although Walton County has only reported one, it was sadly a fatal shark attack. Statistically, though, our beaches are safe compared with others in Florida.
Why Sharks Attack
Humans Sharks do not normally hunt humans, but if they do attack, it is usually a case of mistaken identity. Sharks may confuse humans with sea lions, seals, and similar-bodied prey. There are four basic types of shark attacks on humans:
- Provoked attacks, which are the most common.
- Unprovoked hit-and-run attacks — when the shark grabs, releases, and leaves the scene.
- Unprovoked sneak attacks, when a deep-sea shark moves upon a diver unaware.
- Unprovoked bump-and-bite attacks, when a shark head-butts a person before it takes a bite.
How to Avoid a Shark Attack
Most of these seem obvious, but here are 13 tips on how to avoid a shark attack:
- Stay in groups of people.
- Don't wander too far from shore.
- Stay away from sandbars, steep drop-offs, and estuary inlets.
- Avoid being in the water during early morning, late afternoon, and evening.
- If you're bleeding, stay out of the water! That includes menstruation.
- Don't wear shiny jewelry when in the water.
- Avoid wearing brightly colored or high-contrast clothing in murky waters.
- Refrain from excessive splashing.
- If you see someone fishing, stay away from them.
- Avoid large groups of fish, dolphins, and seabirds.
- Stay away from dead animals in the water.
- Avoid areas where animal, human, or fish waste enter the water.
- Leave the water quickly and calmly if a shark is sighted, even a small one.
Do Not Fear Sharks
It's wise to know how to avoid shark attacks, but you don't need to live in fear of them. Get out there and enjoy that gorgeous water! And if you REALLY like sharks...
Sharks have been the subject of some of Andy's art. For example: