We have decided to put some information on our WEBSITE with
regard to SHARK ATTACKS as they were publicized so much in the year 2001 and
again in 2005, especially in Florida. Unfortunately publicity of this fashion
has an effect on holiday makers visiting our state. Please read on as you may be
surprised by the statistics lower down the page.
We have to report a fatality in the year of 2010. A nine foot shark mauled a Florida Wind surfer in
February. It is the first swimmer who has died in a shark attack
Artist Stephen Howard Schafer aged 38 was kite boarding 1 mile offshore
at Stuart, Florida when the wind died and his sail dropped leaving him
surrounded by sharks. By the time lifeguards reached him he was bleeding
profusely from a 10" gash to his right thigh. Paramedics performed CPR
on shore but he died from his injuries. The Medical Examiner has
determined it was an unprovoked attack by either a Bull or Tiger Shark.
Another victim was a surfboarder in California in
To put things into perspective here are some other
interesting statistics you may be unaware of. Your more likely to die
from one of the items listed below than any SHARK.
1. 2,000 people per year are killed at Stoplight Intersections
in the USA
2. 150 people are killed each year by falling coconuts.
3. Malaria carrying mosquitoes kill about 800,000 people per year.
4. High school and college football injuries claim on average 12 deaths
5. This one's hard to believe but Champagne Corks kill
24 people per
6. Almost 6,000 die from tripping and falling at home each year.
7. Raw meat. Approximately around 5,000 die each year from
consuming uncooked contaminated meat in the USA.
8. Cow's cause blunt force trauma in about 20 Americans each
9. 104 people were killed in wind related incidents including
Tornadoes claimed 70 lives in the USA in 2012.
10. Bee stings kill about 100 people per year in the USA.
11. Lightning kills around 24,000 people annually worldwide.
12. Jellyfish stings kill around 40 people per year
So there you have it.
Very unlikely to be a Shark Attack
Boyceimage.com please visit his great site)
So lets start here
with some morbid facts. In the year 2001 the number of people fatally attacked
by sharks worldwide was 5. Now I bet that surprised you? Many people were
convinced the year of
the shark was 2001 but the statistics show otherwise.
To put things in perspective you have a
5312 chance of being fatally killed in Florida by lightning than being killed by
a shark. Also, apparently you have a
much greater chance of being killed by falling coconuts! Some 86 persons
killed worldwide each year by this event.......and no publicity. So the shark indeed has a
bad deal. No doubt such motion pictures as "JAWS" have sparked fear in the eyes
of the public.
people are attacked due to their own stupidity. This has been especially so in Florida.
Why go swimming in an area where warnings have been posted that sharks are
inshore searching for their favourite delicacy, the Sting Ray which breed in the
sandy shallows at certain times of the year......the sharks are Hammerheads.
would you jump off your
dock in Florida into a seething mass of small fish being chased by something. In fact the
something was a 400 lb Bull Shark which fatally injured the person concerned. It
just bit him and then let him go. Obviously it thought it had fish.
So lets look at the
statistics, there were NO FATAL ATTACKS IN FLORIDA IN 2011 or 2012. The last
fatality in Florida was 2012.
(Information compiled from the University of Florida-Environmental
All data is from the International Shark
Attack File, compiled and maintained by the Florida Museum of Natural History,
the University of Florida and the American Elasmobranch Society. One of the
reasons for the high number of incidents in Florida is as a result of very high
aquatic recreational utilization of its attractive waters by both Florida
residents and tourists, especially surfers.
In 2004 the notable decline
in United States attacks was directly related to a dramatic reduction in Florida
incidents. In the summer of 2004, a series of hurricanes and tropical storms
swept across Florida, resulting in numerous fatalities and heavy property
damage. The storms also affected human beach utilization patterns, resulting in
reduced aquatic recreational activities by residents and tourists. The
opportunity for shark-human interactions therefore was diminished, resulting in
For 2005 we have again seen a dramatic reduction of Shark
Attacks worldwide, but the fatalities have stayed fairly constant. Of this year’s four fatalities, two were in Australia, one in
the Indo-Pacific island of Vanuatu and one in the United States. Surfers were the most frequent victims, accounting for 29 incidents,
followed by swimmers and waders with 20, and divers with four incidents.
Attacks in Florida showed a slight increase. Five of the
state’s 18 shark attacks last year occurred along Florida’s Gulf Coast,
Panhandle Area, which is a greater proportion to the Atlantic coast than
Elsewhere in the United States, five
attacks occurred in South Carolina, four each in Texas
and Hawaii, three in California, two in North Carolina
and one each in New Jersey and Oregon.
In June 2007 two large
Bull Sharks were captured in the Intracoastal Waterway by anglers
fishing for sharks in less than 20 feet of water. One weighed in excess
of 600lb. Our advice is DO NOT SWIM IN THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY!
600lb Bull Shark captured at Venetian Isles - Tampa Bay in 2007
Here is another captured at Shore Acres - Tampa Bay in 2007
Menstruation and Sharks
bodily fluid probably is attractive to sharks. Blood, in any
form, may be at the top of the list. The sharks' ability to
detect even minute amounts of blood and scents of other organic
material is amazing. Several years ago in the Bahamas I observed
juvenile blacktip sharks cruising in waist-deep water. We placed
a carcass of a filleted fish in the water and watched as several
sharks caught scent of the fish and rapidly made a bee-line to
the carcass from long distances away. Obviously no movements
from the carcass were involved - only smell was used as the
sharks weaved back and forth catching the scent of the small
(less than a pound) carcass.
Menstrual blood almost certainly can be detected by a shark, and
I'm sure urine can be as well. Do we have positive evidence that
it is a factor in shark attack? No, and until some menstruating
and non-menstruating divers volunteer to take part in a
controlled test we'll never prove it. In my opinion it likely is
attractive to sharks in certain situations.
Certainly menstruating women are attractive to such
smell-oriented animals as dogs. Sharks, with their extreme
olfaction abilities, surely are capable of detecting at similar
low levels. Does that mean a menstruating woman is setting
herself up? No, but if one is attempting to maximize reduction
of risks it is one thing that can be avoided.
As of this writing there have been a male:female ratio of 9.2:1,
or more than 90% attacks have occurred on males. This reflects a
historic pattern of more males engaged in marine aquatic
activities, especially those that put humans most at risk, e.g.
surfing, diving, long distance swimming, warfare. It in no way
can be attributed to sharks "preferring" males over females. In
recent years proportionately more females are being attacked
because more females are engaging themselves in riskier,
formerly males-only activities.
My advice? Don't worry about it. Lots of women safely dive while
menstruating. Although we haven't got solid scientific data on
the subject, so far we haven't seen any obvious pattern of
increased attacks on menstruating women.
What Color Apparel or Gear Should I Wear in the Water?
see contrast particularly well, so any high contrast color
apparel or gear used by a human in the water is especially
visible to sharks. The bright yellow color traditionally used in
water safety flotation devices and rafts is readily seen by
human rescuers looking for missing persons in the sea and likely
is seen easily by sharks as well. As a result, shark researchers
laughingly refer to this color as "yum yum yellow!" Should one
replace all these devices with more drab colored items? Of
course there is a trade-off involved, but most would agree that
the benefit of increasing one's chances of being rescued far
outweigh the minimal risk of attracting a shark. By contrast
(pardon the pun), divers and swimmers probably can reduce the
chance of an interaction with a shark by avoiding bright
swimwear or dive gear. I personally prefer to use dark blue or
black fins, mask, tank, and wetsuit while diving and make a
point of wearing my dive watch under the cuff of my wetsuit,
thereby eliminating any chance of light reflection off the face
of the watch attracting a shark or barracuda. Similarly, one
always should avoid wearing jewelry because the glint of light
reflecting off metal approximates the glint of light off the
scales of fishes, the normal food items of most sharks.
Advice to Divers Encountering a Shark
shark is sighted, stay calm and maintain your position in as
quiet a manner as possible. Most sharks merely are curious and
will leave on their own accord. Enjoy your opportunity to see
one of nature's most magnificent predators. If you have been
spearfishing or abalone gathering and are holding your catch,
release the catch and quietly exit the area. It is likely that
the shark has been attracted to the sound and smells associated
with your activity and it is aroused and interested in consuming
your catch. Let it have it - no catch is worth the risk of
If a shark begins to get too interested in you by coming closer
and closer, the best strategy is to leave the water - swim
quickly but smoothly, watching the shark all the time, with your
dive partner close at hand. Sharks are less likely to attack a
"school" of divers than a solitary individual. If a shark is
acting overtly aggressive - making rushes at you, hunching its
back, lowering its pectoral (paired side) fins, swimming in a
rapid zigzag course, or swimming with rapid up and down
movements (sometimes rubbing its belly on the bottom) - look to
back up against whatever structure (reef, rock outcropping,
piling) is available, thereby reducing the angles with which the
shark can approach you. If you are in open water, orient
back-to-back with your dive partner and gradually rise to the
surface and the safety of your boat. If you are shore diving,
gradually descend to the bottom so you can find cover.
Use whatever inanimate equipment (speargun, pole-spear, camera)
you have with you to fend off the shark (when diving in known
shark-inhabited waters, it is always good to carry a pole or
spear for this purpose). If a shark attacks, the best strategy
is to hit it on the tip of its nose. This usually results in the
shark retreating. If the retreat is far enough away, then human
retreat is in order - again, swim quickly but smoothly, watching
the shark all the time, with your dive partner close at hand. An
aggressive shark often will return, however, and each subsequent
hit to the snout will be less effective, so take advantage of
any escape opportunities. If you do not have anything to poke
with, use your hand, but remember that the mouth is close to the
nose, so be accurate!
If a shark actually gets you in its mouth, I advise to be as
aggressively defensive as you are able. "Playing dead" does not
work. Pound the shark in any way possible. Try to claw at the
eyes and gill openings, two very sensitive areas. Once released,
do all you can to exit the water as quickly as possible because
with your blood in the water, the shark very well could return
for a repeat attack.
Reducing the Risk
The relative risk of a shark attack is very small but
it incites fear and risks should always be minimized whenever possible in any activity. The chances of
having an interaction with a shark can be reduced if one heeds the following advice:
1. Always stay in groups since sharks are more likely to attack a
2. Do not wander too far from shore --- this isolates an individual and
additionally places one far away from assistance.
3. Avoid being in the water during darkness or twilight hours when sharks
are most active and have a competitive sensory advantage.
4. Do not enter the water if bleeding from an open wound
or if menstruating
--- a shark's olfactory ability is acute.
5. Wearing shiny jewelry is discouraged because the reflected light
resembles the sheen of fish scales.
6. Avoid waters with known effluents or sewage and those being used by
sport or commercial fisherman, especially if there are signs of bait fishes
or feeding activity. Diving seabirds are good indicators of such action.
7. Sightings of porpoises do not indicate the absence of sharks --- both
often eat the same food items.
8. Use extra caution when waters are murky and avoid uneven tanning and
bright colored clothing --- sharks see contrast particularly well.
9. Refrain from excess splashing and do not allow pets in the water because
of their erratic movements.
10. Exercise caution when occupying the area between sandbars or near steep
drop offs --- these are favorite hangouts for sharks.
11. Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present
the water if sharks are seen while there. And, of course, do not harass a
shark if you see one!
So what are the odds of being attacked by a shark?
|Drowning and other beach-related
||1 in 2 million
||1 in 3.5 million
||1 in 11.5 million
|Shark attack fatalities
||0 in 264.1 million
Advice came from the International Shark Attack File
Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
STAY SAFE- Updated April 2015