JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As friends and families flock to the beaches to celebrate the fourth of July, one Florida family is in the hospital with 17-year-old Addison Bethea after she was attacked by a shark Thursday off the coast of Keaton Beach, Florida.
According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, Florida continues to lead the nation in unprovoked shark attacks.
“I didn’t really know exactly what to do but I knew that with sharks you’re supposed to punch them in the nose to get them off of you and I couldn’t get around to punch it in the nose so then I just started socking it in the face and then I poked its eyes and then I tried to latch it off of me with my fingers and then it bit my hand,” Bethea said.
Bethea said her brother heard her scream and came to her rescue. “He’s always been like a hero to me,” Bethea said.
Bethea is set to have her leg amputated Tuesday.
According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, Florida leads the nation in unprovoked shark attacks with 896 confirmed in the Sunshine State since 1837.
News4JAX spoke to a local shark expert regarding what you can do to protect yourself from a shark attack.
“It’s very, very rare that sharks bite people,” Jackson Hooten, Shark expert said.
Hooten has studied sharks all over the world. He says the vast majority of shark attacks are cases of mistaken identity.
According to News4JAX’s records, there have been 36 shark bites in our area in the past 10 years. Most of the attacks were relatively minor.
The most recent attack in Florida actually happened Sunday in Volusia County. A Daytona Beach man was bitten while surfing. His injuries were minor. It was the third shark bite in Volusia County this year.
Hooten recommends avoiding swimming near fishing piers because chum in the water and fish gathering in the shade can attract sharks to that area.
“Sharks are not out to get us. You know, they definitely don’t have a taste for us in any way shape or form,” Hooten said.
Shane Warner said when he fishes near the Jacksonville Beach pier, he often catches sharks.
“I catch a ton of them,” Warner said. “Every time I go out fishing, I catch one or two.”
Hooton also suggested avoiding swimming at dusk or dawn because that is when sharks usually feed.