Safety tips for beachgoers after recent shark attacks in Florida

Woman swimming with shark swimming beneath her – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Willyam Bradberry

People are growing concerned after multiple shark attacks have occurred across Florida. Recently, a teen survived a scary attack in North Florida on June 30, while a young woman was hospitalized after a recent attack while swimming in the Florida Keys.

The advice experts are giving is to not get too close to people who are hunting for fish as spearfishing and scalloping attracts sharks, as well as to avoid going too deep into the water.

Ramiro Palma, the owner of local diving center Scubavice, regularly dives around sharks.

“There’s an amazing world of animals to see, to swim and interact with,” Palma said. “Some of the creatures are friendly, some are not so friendly.”

Palma says people won’t usually have any issues with sharks unless they are hunting for fish underwater or feeding them.

“Usually, around the beaches where some people are getting bitten by sharks, not eaten by sharks, it’s because they are in shallow depths of water, other fish in the area… you’re splashing, others are splashing,” Palma said.

However, not everyone is worried. Cassidy Brown, a tourist visiting Florida from Maine, isn’t afraid of a shark encounter.

“Me, personally I’m not concerned; I know that sharks aren’t going to typically go after a human being,” Brown said. “I don’t really think about it, and if there is one best thing you can do is stay calm.”

Experts have emphasized that shark attacks are extremely rare in general, but specifically in Southwest Florida.

“Typically speaking, sharks are pretty shy creatures that will interact with people in a mild, gentle way if you’re not feeding them,” Palma said. “The chance of getting bitten is one in 11 million.”

Still, there are several precautions swimmers can take. Beachgoers should avoid swimming alone if possible and remain close to the shore. They can also download new apps that track any shark sightings.

According to the Florida Museum’s shark attack file, there have been eight isolated shark attacks in Collier County, eight in Lee County, and one in Charlotte County. While that may seem like an alarmingly large number, it’s not, because this data is the number of attacks from 1882 to the present day. The most recent incident found by WINK news was a man bit by a shark near Naples Beach back in 2007.

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