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Highest rate of shark bites, lowest fatalities

7:51 PM, Aug 8, 2013   |    comments
  • Dr. James Gelsleicheter, University of North Florida Assistant Professor (Photo courtesy of UNF website)
    
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Our beaches and rivers have a wide variety of sharks, and some of the highest rates of shark bites in the world.

"Highest rate within the U.S. definitely, and the highest rate within the world. But the fatality rate in Florida is very low," said University of North Florida Assistant Professor Dr. James Gelsleichter. "That is because the types of species that tend to be involved in shark-related injuries are things like the blacktip shark or spinner shark that are kind of a smaller species, but can get very large."

"We don't even like to call them attacks because they're not purposeful attacks, they're bites," Gelsleichter says.

The sharks in the area often let go after a bite and don't re-encounter the individual afterwards because they realize it was not a fish they bit.

Gelsleichter studies many species of sharks that often visit the First Coast. The sharks have many senses that humans do not have, which allow them to find their prey. These senses often confuse the shark in thinking that people are fish.

The waters in the area have sharks and you have to be conscious of them. Gelsleichter said even though sharks confuse people for prey, these are rare instances.

In other areas around the world, shark bites are not as common but are fatal.

"Areas like South Africa and Australia where individuals tend to get injured even from the first strike or multiple strikes to the point where they actually die. Because those animals are used to feeding on much larger prey, and they are used to coming back and hitting the animal multiple times in order to incapacitate it," said Gelsleichter.

Sharks often get a bad reputation for biting people while enjoying the ocean. Your chances of being bit by a shark are greater in Florida, but the chances of surviving are great too.

First Coast News

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