Florida Is The World Capital Of Non-Fatal Shark Attacks
Yet, it doesn’t receive the Peter Benchley treatment.
Earlier this week, a 58-year-old Floridan gent was bitten on the foot while surfing off New Smyrna Beach. He was about 30m offshore, and injuries were minor. He was able to make it back to the beach on his own, opting out of a hospital visit to treat the injuries.
It seems like stories like this occur throughout the Sunshine State on a weekly basis. Because, they do. In fact, according to the University of Florida (possibly bias, but with credible academic backing), 32 recorded shark attacks occurred (zero fatal) in 2016 – an average of about .6 nibbles a week.
Compared to the number of attacks in other locations — 15 in Australia, 10 in Hawaii, and one in South Africa — in the same year, this is quite a substantial figure. By the numbers, this’d kinda make Florida the shark attack capital of the world, right?
That’s the thing, though. When asked about sharkiest waters on Earth, most surfers will point to Reunion Island, Australia, South Africa, Northern California, or even Madagascar before glancing at Kelly Slater’s homeland. Those that direct their fingers towards America’s most south-eastern state are either residents, or educated outsiders. Why is this?
Well, after a little research, the answer becomes clear. While standing on top of the podium in regards to the quantity of attacks, they are “lacking” in one specific area: Number of fatal, or serious, attacks.
Let’s roll out the numbers. Over the past decade; there have been 21 attacks total in Reunion Island, six of which were fatal; 33 attacks in California, three of which were fatal; 41 attacks in South Africa, 13 of which were fatal; and 139 attacks in Australia, 15 of which were fatal. Compare that to the 244 bites in Florida, only one of which resulted in a death, and we see a break in the pattern.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the culprits themselves. The most common shark species found in the warm Florida waters are blacktips (common, and kinda scary), bonnetheads (small, not that scary), bulls (extremely scary), hammerheads (should be scary, but look goofy), lemons (similar to car models in terms of doing mostly psychological damage), nurses (relatively tame), and tigers (remember Quint’s narrative in Jaws?). All sharks, so all scary, but largely balanced in terms of naturally aggressive and non-aggressive species.
Juxtaposed to other regions, which are heavy in regards to hostile bull sharks, tiger sharks and great whites, and we can see a clearer picture as to why something like three attacks happening in two hours can fly largely under the radar. Or, as a more targeted example: Why Eric Geiselman can do flips cooly over fin-shaped speed bumps, without so much as a noticeable concern.
It’s an odd dynamic, and doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon. So, consider this your lesson in the relationship between saltwater ecosystems, media relations, and unfortunate aquatic encounters. The more you know.
More Dane Reynolds Than You Can Stomach In One Serving
Chapter 11 TV is everything surf media needs.
Kanoa Igarashi On Concussions, Goose Chases, Title Visions, The Three Types Of Surfers CT’ers Encounter In The Water, And More
A candid and wide-ranging conversation with 2022 World #5.
Can Small-Scale Investors Buy Into Wave Pools?
Say you got $10k and a dream — what can you do?
An Early Pipeline Exit For Stephanie Gilmore Amidst GenZ Glory
Day Two of the 2023 CT season was a clear notice that the kids are…
Hand-Shaping, Glassing, And Finishing ’70s-Inspired Displacement Hulls Will Not Make You Rich
Profile: Tristan Mausse of Fantastic Acid is in it for all the right reasons.
Hassling, Head-Dips, and Broken Apple Watches
The 2023 CT is underway. Here's what happened on Day One of the Billabong Pro…
Stephanie Gilmore And Filipe Toledo Are The 2022 Stab Surfers Of The Year
Caity and Hughie take Best Juniors, “NOZ VID” wins best film, and Ho and Pringle…
Red Bulls, Crypto Bears, Former’s Six-Figure Fish, Tyler’s Multi-Millions And More
A brief catalog of the latest surf industry news and whispers.
“Definitely The First Time I’ve Gone Surfing Via Plane”
Parker Coffin, Harrison Roach, and friends tear through NZ on Roark's most well-rounded surf trip…
Pipe Preview: This Year Feels Different
With John and Gabs healthy — and the arrival of the femme next-gen — here’s…
WSL Tells Competitors: ‘You Better Like Them Apples’
Will mandating competitors to wear Apple Watches make the 2023 tour more or less engaging?
Stab Surfer of the Year: John John Florence, Italo Ferreira, Balaram Stack, Rolo Montes, and Shaun Manners
Day 9: "You can't do better than his year last year." - John John Florence
Full Moon Surfs, Impassable Puddles, And A Few Nights Spent Sleeping In A WSL Commentary Booth
A reader-submitted collection of nonconformist surf stories.
Kael Walsh Now Owns A Bitcoin, And Watched One Crypto Video
He’s officially your Stab Edit Of The Year champion.
Carissa Moore And Finn McGill Are Your 2023 Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Champions
They both pocket $50k and tickets to this year’s Vans Pipe Masters.
The Pick-Up, Presented By Vans, Episode 5
Mason Ho helps us ring in our final week on the North Shore.