JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - A man was bitten by a shark late Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
It was the second shark bite this year in the Northeast Florida area. As the weather warms up, lifeguards want people to be careful while enjoying the surf and sand, and a shark expert wants people to be informed about sharks' behaviors.
According to Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue, a man was bitten on the leg by a shark about 5:30 p.m. Sunday near 30th Street South and was helped by a bystander before he was taken to a hospital in stable condition. A friend said the shark bit into the bone of the man’s leg, tearing tendons.
The bite was reported nine days after a 10-year-old Macclenny girl was attacked by a shark in the waters off Crescent Beach in St. Johns County.
Peyton Shields' family was celebrating her birthday at the beach about 5:45 p.m. April 12 when she was bitten on her legs and hand by a shark. She needed 40 stitches.
Both bites happened just before dusk, when Dr. Jim Gelsleichter, a shark expert with the University of North Florida, advises beachgoers to avoid getting in the ocean because that's when sharks and other marine life can be most active.
"We often tell people to try to avoid swimming at either dawn or dusk," he said. "In many cases, this has been described as being a time when sharks are more active in hunting prey."
Gelsleichter said most shark bites in the area come from blacktip and spinner sharks, and that bites are more common this time of year.
"In the spring, as well as in the fall, is when the animals are really making those migrations north and south," he said. "So that’s really the time when we start to see these bites."
Some beachgoers say they're not worried about being bitten by a shark.
"Just be cautious, look around," said Luiza Bajkowska, a mother of two. "It's not an everyday thing, so nothing that should keep you out of the water."
Others say sharks are among the things that keep her out of the water.
"Sharks, jellyfish, people fishing -- I don’t wanna get caught in a hook," Lauren Fillow said. "So anything that I can’t see."
UNF’s shark biology department has been surveying local shark populations for the last decade. Gelsleichter said shark populations began to decline in the 1980s because of shark fishing, but since the government started regulating, the shark population has been coming. So, according to Gelshleichter, increasing population of both people and sharks means more chances for shark bites.
A study published earlier this year said shark attacks across the globe have doubled in the last 20 years, but still, researchers clarified, the rate of attack is low and the likeliness of someone getting bitten varies by location.
According to News4Jax records, there have been two locally recorded shark bites so far this year. Last year, there were four reported shark bites in the Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia area.
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