SHARK WATCH: Lifeguards at Lori Wilson Park On Alert After Sharks Spotted Off Cocoa Beach
By Space Coast Daily // May 26, 2019
BEACH OFF LORI WILSON PARK BRIEFLY CLOSED BY BREVARD OCEAN RESCUE ON SATURDAY
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA – Lifeguards at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach closed the beach for about an hour on Saturday after seeing several sharks lingering close to the beach.
Last month, lifeguards spotted sharks from one of their watchtowers about 100 yards from the shoreline. That prompted a closure of the beach for swimmers, for approximately 30 minutes.
“It’s very scary. I think I’m not putting my feet in the water anymore,” said Luna Cohen, who was hosting friends on vacation from Brazil.
She said she had a close encounter with a shark in Titusville a couple of years ago, and she still a little spooked about it.
In May 2018, Cody High, of San Angelo, Texas, was walking in knee-deep water when he was bitten by a 6-foot bull shark while vacationing in Cocoa Beach, suffering a bite to his lower left calf.
Historically, Florida has had more shark attacks than any other state, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.
MOST BITES MINOR
New Smyrna Beach has been called the “shark attack capital of the world,” as it has more recorded incidents per square mile than any other beach in the world with 303 attacks between 1882 and 2018 (see the detail below).
However, most bites are minor – and none of these attacks have been fatal.
Off the Space Coast, there have been 147 attacks between 1882 and 2018.
Surfers experienced a majority of shark incidents with 60 percent, largely due to the provocative nature of the activity, according to George Burgess, former director of the file housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. Swimmers were affected by 22 percent of attacks, followed by divers, with 8 percent.
“I have managed many surf related injuries, including, on more than one occasion, a surfer that was bitten by a shark,” said Dr. Steve Badolato.
“I treated a patient who presented with a large bite to the foot resulting in a noteworthy injury with complications requiring stitches, surgery and antibiotics. This patient’s encounter was fairly typical of most shark bites while surfing. In most situations the shark’s reputation is far worse than his bite,” said Dr. Badolato.
According to the International Shark Attack File, by far the most common bites on surfers are “hit and run” attacks which typically occur in the surf zone. The victim rarely sees the shark, and after inflicting a single bite or slash wound it usually will not return.
These attacks are frequently the case of mistaken identity. It is suspected that upon biting, the shark quickly realizes the surfer is a foreign meal and immediately releases.
Shark bites are rare, and, as in this case, the injuries are mostly confined to the leg below the knee and seldom life-threatening.
In the case of a shark attack, researchers advise taking a proactive response, such as hitting the shark’s nose, since they respect size and power.
“Shark attacks are rare and it doesn’t matter whether you call them attacks or bites or bumps – your chances of having any of them are slim,” Burgess said.
For additional safety tips and to view the 2019 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary CLICK HERE.
Confirmed Unprovoked Shark Attacks, 1882-Present (Source: International Shark Attack Files
Florida Museum of Natural History)
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