Florida has consistently ranked highest for shark bites in the United States for years, and last year was no different. A total of 28 shark bites were reported within the 65,758 square-mile (170,310 km2) state. Florida is a southeastern U.S. state sandwiched between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
Subsequently, it has close to 200 beaches spanning hundreds of miles, and each year, unlucky people get bitten. Here’s all you need to know about the 28 shark attacks that happened last year in Florida, where they happened, why, and other important information about shark bites.
How Dangerous is a Shark Bite?
The severity of the danger of a shark bite heavily depends on the scenario and the shark breed. Some “attacks” occur when sharks’ denticles scrape them. Denticles are the tooth-like structures on sharks’ skins that are rough and abrasive enough to cause a significant scrape.
When sharks are surveying the water, they could come in contact with a human unknowingly, and if the human is lucky enough to escape before more is done, they would probably only have an abrasion. However, it would still require a trip to the emergency room.
Other attacks are not as minor and involve other more deadly parts of the shark’s body. A shark’s bite is estimated to be as strong as 18 tons per square inch (for comparison, a human’s is 162 pounds per square inch; incomparable!)
However, sharks do not even need to exert force to cause significant damage with their teeth because of how sharp they are. A simple shake of their heads can result in massive chunks of flesh being ripped out.
So, it all depends on the shark and the situation but to be clear, a shark’s bite can indeed be fatal.
Where the 28 Bites Happened Last Year in Florida
According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), Florida’s 28 bites occurred in Volusia, Miami-Dade, Brevard, St. Lucie, Martin, Manatee, Broward, Palm Beach, and Saint John’s counties. Here are the details:
Volusia County is located right between Saint Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean. A total of 17 bites were recorded in the county, and 337 total bites have been recorded in the county since 1882. This is obviously why Volusia County is referred to as the “Shark bite Capital of the World.”
Brevard County is located in Florida’s east central and recorded a total of 2 bites. A total of 155 bites have been recorded in the state since 1882.
Miami-Dade County is a southeastern state with almost 3 million people in total population and 2 national parks. In 2021, 2 bites were recorded, bringing the total number of bites since 1882 to 19.
St. Lucie County
St. Lucie County is known for its 6 endangered bird species, as well as its love for golfing. The 688 square-mile (1,780 km2) county recorded 2 bite incidents last year, and a total of 37 bites have been recorded in the county since 1882.
Broward County is Florida’s second most populated state, with an area of 1,322.8 square miles (3,426 km2). Last year, the state recorded one bite, bringing the grand total since 1882 to 16.
Martin County is home to the bio-diverse lagoon ecosystem in the Northern Hemisphere and has about 796.9 square miles of wetlands. The county recorded a single bite last year and has had a total of 40 bite records since 1882.
Manatee County is located in Florida’s central parts and had a total of 1 bite record in 2021. The total number of bites recorded in the state since 1882 is 5, which is quite a low number.
Palm Beach is one of Florida’s more popular counties, with about 543 square miles (1,410 km2) of land and 209 square miles (540 km2) of water. Eighty-one bites have been recorded in the county since 1882, but there was only 1 incident last year.
St. Johns County
St. Johns County is located in Florida’s northeastern parts and has about 601 square miles (1,560 km2) of land and 221 square miles (570 km2) of water. There was 1 bite recorded in the state last year, bringing up the county’s grand total since 1882 to 45.
How Do Most Shark Attacks Occur?
Although a larger number of shark bites occur with no provocation from the victims, some activities on shark-infested waters have proven to attract shark bites more than others.
- 51% of shark bites occurred during surfing or waterboarding sports.
- 39% of shark bites occurred while the victims swam or waded in the water
- Body surfing or horseplay claimed 6% of all bite incidents
- 4% of bites occurred during snorkeling or free-diving
How Many People Died in Florida From the 28 Shark Attacks?
In Florida, none of the 28 incidents resulted in a death. The victims were lucky enough to get out soon enough and received medical attention in good time.
How Often Do People Get Bitten By Sharks?
Globally, an average of 72 confirmed shark bites occur yearly. Your chances of getting bitten by a shark are 1 in 11.5 million, and the chances of actually getting killed are less than 1 in 264.1 million. Last year, there was 1 recorded fatality in America, which occurred in California.
Why Do People Get Bitten By Sharks So Often In Florida?
There are three main reasons shark bites are so common in Florida. The state has about 4,510 islands and is located between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. About 53,625 square miles (138,887 km2) is land, while 18.5% of its total area (12,133 square miles) is water. Florida also has the second-highest rate of population growth in the U.S., which results in increased beach activities. Considering the fact that Florida’s waters are known to be shark-filled with 15 different shark species, it’s probably understandable why so many people get bitten by sharks in the state.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Alessandro De Maddalena/Shutterstock.com
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