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Shark Attacks On The Rise In The United States

And more than half of them happened in the Atlantic Ocean …

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As the United States approaches peak summertime, a trip to the beach is considered the ideal travel destination for vacationers. But those looking to relax with a cool dip in the Atlantic Ocean might be rethinking that strategy as shark attacks off the continental U.S. are on the rise.

According to the website Tracking Sharks, there have been 19 reported shark attacks in the U.S. so far this year – with 14 of them occurring in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.

Meanwhile, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s 2023 International Shark Attack File, 120 shark-human interactions were reported worldwide – including 69 confirmed unprovoked shark bites on humans and 22 provoked bites.

“Unprovoked bites are defined as incidents in which a bite on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the shark,” the report noted. “Provoked bites occur when a human initiates interaction with a shark in some way.”

According to the Shark Research Institute, there are more than 400 species of sharks – although not all of them pose a danger to humans. Of those that do, great white sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks top the list.

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Although great white sharks are responsible for the highest number of recorded shark attacks on humans, most of this year’s attacks are suspected to have been by bull sharks.

As usual, Florida – the “shark attack capital of the world” – has seen the most reported shark attacks this year out of any state. Although the Florida Museum puts the odds of being attacked by a shark at just one in 11.5 million – eight shark attacks have been reported in the Sunshine State as of this month. That’s half of the total attacks (16) reported in Florida last year – and we’ve still got two months of peak summer weather to go.

The most notable attacks in Florida happened in May of this year when three people fell victim to shark attacks on the same day.

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The first attack transpired when a 45-year-old woman was swimming past the first sandbar in the Gulf of Mexico in Walton County. There, a shark bit off her lower left arm and caused injuries to her midsection. Less than two hours later, two victims – ages 15 and 17 – were attacked about five miles to the east near Inlet Beach, most likely by the same shark. The 15-year-old victim suffered horrendous injuries resulting in the loss of her hand and leg – along with two-thirds of the blood in her body.

A bull shark was believed to have been responsible for those attacks.

The Florida sharks weren’t done, though. Over the Fourth of July weekend, an Ohio man was bitten on his foot while standing in knee-deep water at New Smyrna Beach, Florida – making this just one of the three attacks that day in the Atlantic Ocean. Off the coast of South Padre Island on the Gulf of Texas, four people encountered a shark and two were bitten.

For South Carolina vacationers, only one shark attack has been reported this year. According to the Coast Guard Sector Charleston, a 65-year-old man was attacked by a shark while spearfishing 20 miles off the Charleston shore – and taken to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) for treatment.

The other U.S. attacks – one in California and two in Hawaii – involved Pacific Ocean sharks.

Want to learn more about sharks? You picked the right week. Discovery launched its 36th annual ‘Shark Week‘ on Sunday (June 7, 2024), with programming slated to continue through this coming Sunday (June 14, 2024).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Erin Parrott (Provided)

Erin Parrott is a Greenville, S.C. native who graduated from J. L. Mann High School in 2021. She is currently a rising senior at the University of South Carolina majoring in broadcast journalism. Got feedback or a tip for Erin? Email her here.

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3 comments

DJT July 9, 2024 at 4:20 pm

That is ok I have my electric boat. No shark is going to get me.

Reply
MemoryQueen Top fan July 9, 2024 at 4:33 pm

Sea turtle lovers, please don’t come for me but…. my personal opinion is there appears to be a correlation between an increase in the sea turtle population and sharks attacks. Especially in shallow waters. Possibly as a result of coming closer to the shore for the turtles, which are a main food source for sharks. Not a popular ideology given how much has been spent on projects to protect and boost the turtle population, but it’s interesting to look at the sea turtle population map and draw your own conclusions. I do believe many factors play a part, but think this is one that’s been overlooked.

Reply
SCNative Top fan July 10, 2024 at 7:20 am

So Florida has already had half as many shark attacks as it did all of last year……and we’re only halfway through the year. Shocking!

Reply

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