Shark bites are on the rise around the world, according to data published this week by the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File.
In 2021, there were 73 shark bites, according to the data by ISAF, which is based out of the museum and the University of Florida. In comparison, data shows, there were only 52 bites in 2020.
The numbers from 2021 are more normal compared to years past. In fact, 2020 was actually the lowest documented in over a decade. Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum’s shark research program, explained that it’s partially due to the coronavirus pandemic and beaches being closed for a period of time.
”It’s really not bad at all. The numbers are back up to where they were before the pandemic,” Naylor told News4JAX on Monday.
VIEW: ISAF 2021 shark attack report
In Florida, blacktip sharks are likely responsible for the majority of bites, most of which are due to a case of mistaken identity, said Tyler Bowling, IFAS manager.
In comparison to other coastal states in the U.S., Naylor said, Florida has more shark bites.
“More than 50% of the bites in the United States always come from Florida,” Naylor said. “But if you look at Florida, it’s a peninsula. It’s got coasts and beautiful beaches.”
And when looking and comparing the Florida beaches, there are certain spots that see more shark bites than others.
“Every year throughout Florida, Volusia County, New Smyrna Beach, in particular, has more bites than anywhere else,” Naylor said. “And it’s quite interesting that very, very few of them are very serious.”
It’s important to remember that sharks are not swimming near shore with the sole purpose to attack people — they’re likely following a food source.
“I would like to emphasize perhaps on that note, that sharks do not seek out humans,” Naylor said.
There is no reason to fear the water. Here are some simple protocols to reduce the risk of a shark:
- Swim with a buddy
- Stay close to shore
- Don’t swim at dawn or dusk
- Don’t swim around people who are fishing