Volusia Ranks #1 in Shark Bites...Again
By Cathy Padilla
"You're gonna need a bigger boat," the famous line said by Roy Scheider in the movie "Jaws" brings a fictional town in New York to life and a giant, great white terrorizing the ocean there. Luckily, the shark bites in Volusia County are much more mild and almost anticipated by the local surfers who have dubbed New Smyrna Beach the "Shark Attack Capital of the World." The Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File investigated 120 alleged shark-human interactions worldwide in 2023. ISAF confirmed 69 unprovoked shark bites on humans and 22 provoked bites. Eight of those attacks happened in Volusia County.
The number of bites globally was slightly up in 2023, with the U.S. leading the world once again at 36 bites, or 52%. Of the 36, two were fatal. Australia came in second with 15 attacks. Florida has long topped global charts for the number of shark bites, and 2023 was no different. Florida’s 16 cases represent 44% of the U.S. total and 23% of unprovoked bites worldwide. This is lower than Florida’s most recent five-year annual average of 19 incidents. Hawaii recorded eight bites, one of which was fatal in 2023. In Florida, Volusia County had the most shark bites (eight), representing 50% of the state’s total. This is in line with the five-year annual average of nine incidents in the area. Of the eight remaining bites, two were in Brevard County, two in St. Lucie County and one each occurred in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Escambia and Pinellas counties.
As the report documents, the risk of being bitten by a shark still remains very low. Surfers and those participating in board sports accounted for 42% of incidents. Swimmers and waders accounted for 39%. Snorkelers/free divers accounted for 13%.
Photo: Daytona Beach Photo Credit: Cathy Padilla
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