New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County, Florida, has been deemed the shark attack capital of the world. This last weekend, it lived up to its name as three people endured shark bites over a two day period.
Emily Comfort, a 20 year old surfer sustained a shark bite on her left hand and wrist on Saturday. She was admitted to the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. Fortunately her injuries weren’t fatal. Just 30 minutes after the incident, Riley Petrovich, a 21 year old surfer, suffered a shark bite on his right foot, however, he refused being taken to hospital.
Director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gavin Naylor, says that many bait fish collect in the region near the pier on New Smyrna Beach, which typically attracts the attention of sharks, but this area of the beach also happens to have great surfing breaks, which attracts thrill seeking surfers.
“If you like to surf and you surf in this particular spot, the chances are high that you have been within 10 feet of a shark,” Naylor said in an email. “The surfers all know this. They routinely report seeing sharks in the area. While it may be news to the non-surfing community, it is widely known to scientists and surfers.”
Not 24 hours after the first two incidents, Peter Bourbeau (51 years old) received a bite on his right foot whilst standing in knee-high water. Volusia County Beach Safety said that Bourbeau estimated the shark was about 4 feet (1.2 meters) long. He apparently kicked the shark with his left foot before it swam off.
The shark hub
Since 1882, 303 shark attacks have been recorded in Volusia County according to the International Shark Attack File – the highest number in the U.S. The second highest figure was Brevard County, Florida, with 147 attacks. Since 1837, there have been 1,441 known unprovoked shark attacks in the U.S; 828 of those attacks occurred in Florida. The second highest record of attacks is in Hawaii with just 162 incidents.