In my younger days, when I first moved to Florida, I was pretty careless about going into the water whether it was day or night. I never ever gave the possibility of being bitten by a shark a second thought. In retrospect that was entirely remiss. Let me explain more.
You might ask why a shark would attack a person? According to https://worldanimalfoundation.org/advocate/shark-attack-statistics/ there are several possibilities for why sharks might attack people. They suggest there are three types of shark attacks and the vast majority are mere curiosity. It is interesting for sharks to note how people get into the water and what they do once in it. People splash, swim, and often paddle in the waters off the beaches around the world. People have been doing this for a long long time and sharks have been around a long long time. One might think they would acclimate to these forays and not react, but we would be wrong to assume that line of logic. Statistically, some fifty-one percent of shark attacks occur near the surface of the water and are led by recreational activities. Do I have your rapt attention yet? Keep reading.
Sharks are drawn in by sounds and movement. Splashing or crashing water sounds especially and noise and movement. In addition to that sharks are able to smell scents from as far away as two miles. Remaining calm or relaxed as a shark approaches is supposed to exude same to them. However, I know from personal experience that I panic and rush to escape. I am pretty sure most of you would too, so please do not judge me.
Back to the three types of shark attacks. George Burgess an ISAF (International Shark Attack File) curator there is the; hit and run; bump and bite; and the sneak attack. Let’s delve into each of these.
In the hit and run scenario the sneaky shark attacks the human rapidly taking a bite and then swims away. This is the commonest type of shark attack.
Bump and attack bites occur during feeding of sharks. The hungry shark with bump his prey and then circle around biting each time. This results in multiple wounds and is typically quite severe or fatal. Note to self – do not enter the water if you see dorsal fins near shore eating!
The sneak attack in a mix of the two above attacks. There is usually little warning of the impending danger and there are multiple bites.
BBC said that sharks are biting humans because of environmental factors like climate change. They tie the changes in water temperatures to changes in shark migration patterns and shark habitat changes leading to attacks. According to them our conservation efforts are helping to bring sharks inshore where they can more easily attack unsuspecting humans.
The ISAF said that in 2021 there were one hundred thirty-seven shark attacks across the United States. Seventy-three they state were unprovoked. Supposedly, thirty-nine were actually provoked! What in the world? Crazy right?
Sixty-four percent of all shark bites in 2021 were in the USA. Sixty percent were in Florida. Worldwide Florida tallies at thirty-eight percent of all shark bites or twenty-eight for 2021 compared to forty-seven across the USA. Hawaii only had six, California three, South Carolina four, North Carolina three, Georgia two, and for Maryland just one.
In the state of Florida Volusia County had the largest number of shark attacks. Seventeen to be exact and of those, the vast majority were on New Smyrna Beach. Note to self – do not go to New Smyrna Beach or if you do, stay out of the water.
In the past decade, there were two hundred fifty-nine confirmed shark attacks in the state of Florida. Australia which is known to have heavily shark-infested waterways took the number two slot for shark attacks at one hundred forty-three, but of those attacks, they rank number one for fatal attacks. Brazil from 1931 thru 2021 had one hundred-seven shark attacks with sixty-one of those occurring off the coast of Pernambuco. Note to self – do not go into the water off the coast of Pernambuco.
There is a misnomer regarding most shark attacks taking place in three feet of less of water. That is simply untrue. Most in shallow water occur in six to ten feet (swimmers, snorkelers, paddleboarders, etc.) and in deep water from thirty to sixty feet (divers).
The most dangerous sharks according to Sharksider are; the Great White Shark, the Tiger Shark, and the Bull Shark. The bite force of a Great White Shark is over four thousand psi (pounds per square inch). That is a whole lot of bite!
Tiger Sharks are thought to be docile, unaggressive sharks. Yet they rank number two in unprovoked attacks and fatalities. Beware!
Bull Sharks are versatile. They are able to move between salt water and fresh water easily. They can be found in rivers and even streams. Often in quite shallow waters. They are known to be inquisitive and their mouths are how they explore and investigate things around them. Note to self – don’t think you are safe from sharks while in rivers or streams.
Perhaps something else you did not know is that people kill over one hundred million sharks each year according to American Oceans. The Smithsonian Ocean states that somewhere between 1.3 and 2.7 million are slain for their fins. The added tragedy is that those who perpetrate this slaying remove the fin and leave these sharks to die. Without their dorsal fins they drown.