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.