VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Experts say it’s atypical two people were bitten by sharks in New Smyrna Beach on the same day, even in an area deemed the Shark Attack Capital of the World.
What You Need To Know
- Volusia County averages nine attacks per year
- Most shark attacks aren’t severe in Volusia County
- RELATED: Rough surf, shark attacks lead to beach rescues in Volusia County
The shark attacks happened about an hour and a half apart Monday in waters roughly two miles apart, according to Capt. A.J. Miller, a watch commander for Volusia County Beach Safety.
Volusia County has a five-year annual average of nine attacks, according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF). The county has more shark attacks than anywhere else on the planet but most are not severe, explained Gavin Naylor, who manages ISAF.
Naylor estimates the chances of getting bit by a shark in New Smyrna Beach are 10 times higher than anywhere else nationwide, but he says that probability is still small.
“You’re far more likely to get involved in a fender bender driving to New Smyrna Beach,” he said.
Naylor says the strong tidal flow in the Ponce de Leon Inlet leads to more baitfish in the area, which in turn boosts shark numbers. And outside the inlet, on the Atlantic side, there is a patch of water good for surfers. The sharks are provoked when people splash their hands and kick their feet.
“When people are paddling on their board, the soles of their feet catch the light and very quickly, in exactly the same way the scales on a mullet or a menhaden might catch the light,” explained Naylor. “And when you’re a predator, you don’t tarry. You have to be quick and make a quick decision.”
Volusia County’s earliest record unprovoked shark bite happened in 1956 in New Smyrna Beach, according to ISAF data. In all, as of 2020, there have been 244 attacks in the city’s waters, compared to 320 county-wide.
Brevard County has the second-most shark bites in the state, with 153 attacks recorded since 1929, according to ISAF.
Pinellas County has 13 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks from 1882 to 2021, stated the University of Florida’s Florida Museum, while Manatee County has four.
For numbers statewide, click here.