Unprovoked bites, while rare, have been raising the alarm for some beachgoers this summer
Brownie Bytes Take: As a surfer with 40 years experience in Florida, New Smyrna Beach has the most shark bites and sharks in the surfline than anywhere else. I’ve been bumped, chased, and seen others bitten there in 3 ft. of water right along the shore. Even though the blacktip shark migration during the late Fall and Winter happens in S. Florida with 10,000 sharks per mile per day cruising near the coast, they rarely bother anyone.– R. Michael Brown
News of shark attacks off the coast of New York’s Long Island this summer raised the alarm for many beachgoers, surfers and divers. Shark bites, although rare compared with the number of people who get into the ocean, still happen in coastal areas of the U.S.
According to Tracking Sharks, a website that specializes in reporting shark attacks and bites across the globe, there have been 28 shark attacks in the U.S. in 2022 as of Aug. 1. Two of the attacks were provoked and none was fatal.
There were 47 confirmed cases in 2021, returning to prepandemic levels, and 33 in 2020.
Unprovoked shark bites are the most common incidents, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack Files, a global compilation of all known shark attacks. Florida leads the U.S. in shark attacks, followed by Hawaii, California and South Carolina.
The most frequent type of unprovoked bites are so-called “hit and run” attacks, the museum says. These normally happen in the surf zones as coastal shark species follow schools of fish close to shore. There, sharks can encounter swimmers and surfers—and sometimes confuse people with their usual prey. The sharks don’t return after inflicting a single bite or slash wound.
Shark attacks and deaths from shark bites are extremely rare, experts say. The yearly average of unprovoked shark bites globally is 70, resulting in about 5 deaths, data from the Florida Museum of Natural History shows.