Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's all part of the aquatic recreation

Cue the ‘Jaws’ music: Volusia leads nation in shark bites again
By Dinah Voyles Pulver
A young bull shark was caught recently in the Indian River Lagoon.

A few more swimmers and surfers were bitten by sharks in Volusia County last year, echoing a national and international trend.

Those shark bites – 10 – put the county at the top of the list again for the most shark bites in the nation, said George Burgess, curator of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida. It was an increase of three from the previous year.

In total, 28 shark bites or attacks were reported in Florida last year, more than half the 52 reported nationwide. Eight shark bites were reported in Brevard County. None were reported in Flagler County.

Given Florida’s year-round appeal, it’s not surprising that the state usually leads the list, Burgess said.

“As long as the sea is attractive for aquatic recreation, there will be more people in the sea,” he said.

Several local businesses make the most of the county’s reputation for being the shark bite capital. For example, the motto for HT’s Pub 44 in New Smyrna Beach is “craving the bite,” said co-owner Scott Pisani. Customers get a kick out of the connection.

“We actually have a shark hanging in our tiki bar, and our patrons dress him up for the holidays,” said Pisani. “Most people know, especially New Smyrnans, that they’re not really bites.”

Hawaii reported 7 bites last year, according to the Shark File, while there were five in South Carolina, four in North Carolina and California and one each in Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

The overall number of shark attacks worldwide dipped slightly last year, defying recent trends, dropping from 75 to 72.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The fear is real

Beaches closed: Has monster shark returned to haunt Newcastle’s swimmers? 
 The Daily Telegraph  Neil Keene

FEARS of a shark lurking close to shore have forced the closure of beaches in Newcastle yet again this morning.

A day after Japanese national Tadashi Nakahara died after having both his legs torn off by a shark while surfing off the NSW north coast, Newcastle City Council decided to shut Nobbys and Stockton beaches after a shark was spotted in the mouth of Newcastle Harbour.
Killed ... Tadashi Nakahara
Killed ... Tadashi Nakahara

The harbour’s entrance sits between the two beaches.

A council statement said jetskis were searching the area for the predator, which showed up in the same area where a 4.5m white pointer prompted 10 straight days of beaches closures earlier this year.

Warm water currents and large numbers of fish are believed to be contributing to an unprecedented number of shark sightings off Newcastle this summer.

The sighting comes after yesterday’s fatal attack at Ballina and another at Seven Mile Beach, south of Byron Bay, on Sunday in which chef Jabez Reitman was bitten on his back by a 3-metre shark.

Confirmed sightings include the 4.5m white pointer, a 3.5m tiger shark, a pack of 3m bull sharks and another large predator, believed to be a 3-4m great white, all close to shore.

Nobbys and Stockton beaches are expected to be closed until noon at least.


Shark Attacks Dolphin
A shark off Newcastle's Burwood Beach last month. Picture: Peter Lorimer
Newcastle beaches were closed for a record ten days last month.
Newcastle beaches were closed for a record ten days last month.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

We should all have the Pilot Fish graphic on the bottom of our boards...hmmm

Shark Attacks on the Rise, But Fewer Deaths
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The pilot fish hanging with shark
Say chum..er cheese!

Shark attacks are on the rise in the U.S., with Florida leading the nation in numbers of such incidents, according to the International Shark Attack File report released this week.

The report, which covers all documented attacks in 2014, also concludes that fewer people worldwide died from shark attacks in 2014 versus recent prior years. Three people perished last year under such circumstances, which is less than half the average number of shark-related fatalities that occurred over the past decade.

“It’s amazing, given the billions of hours humans spend in the water, how uncommon attacks are, but that doesn’t make you feel better if you’re one of them,” George Burgess, curator of the world shark attack data housed at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History, said in a press release.

In terms of U.S. data, 28 shark attacks happened in waters off of Florida in 2014. Hawaii had the second most number of shark attacks with seven. South Carolina had five, followed by North Carolina and California, which each had four. Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas each had one reported shark attack.

The fact that Florida is at the top of the list comes as no surprise. The “Sunshine State” has held this dubious distinction for some time. Burgess believes so many shark attacks occur in Florida because of the state’s year-round appeal as a surfing and swimming destination.

Recreational water users in Florida needn’t worry too much, however, as many Florida incidents rank low on what’s called the “Shark-Induced Trauma,” which ranks the severity of attacks from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most serious.

“Most of them are better called bites than attacks,” Burgess said. “They’re the equivalent of dog bites.”

As for shark attacks worldwide, these dropped from 75 in 2013 to 72 last year. The overall trend decade to decade, however, has been a steady increase in shark attacks worldwide, which Burgess expects to continue.

He said, “I am willing to predict that there will be more attacks in the second decade of this century than there were in the first.”