After a shark attack this holiday weekend, here’s what you need to know to stay safe

Southeast

(NewsNation Now) — Shark safety is top of mind for some parents after a Florida child was bitten over the holiday weekend.

Experts say there’s no evidence sharks are more prevalent in shallow water. Even if it may seem like there are more shark attacks closer to the shore this year, the numbers don’t show anything different this year than in previous years.

So far, none of the attacks in 2021 have been fatal.

A great white shark bit a man swimming at a Northern California beach in June before the 8-year-old Florida boy was bitten.

Authorities in Volusia County, Florida tell NewsNationNow.com their area sees about 10 shark bites a year. In fact, Florida has topped the charts worldwide for the number of shark bites for decades.

Shark researchers describe attacks as a case of mistaken identity. 

“We find that when the visibility is poor, then the chance of a shark bite, an accidental shark bite on a human is higher,” Gavin Naylor, International Shark Attack File program director, said. “In fact, in the files that we maintain, more than 60% of the incidents are associated with very low visibility water. So when the water is churned up, and you can’t see very far, the sharks are more likely to make a mistake and accidentally bite the wrong thing.”

Experts recommend three things:

  • Swim near a lifeguard chair.
  • Pay attention to birds. If they dive into water there may be fish, and sharks may be interested.
  • Look around the water before and while you’re in.

Officials tell us the number one thing people need to pay attention to is rip currents, not sharks.

Naylor says the chance of getting bitten by a shark is lower than getting struck by lightning. 

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