COCOA BEACH, Florida – It’s Spring again which means that several species of sharks most responsible for biting humans are swimming off of the coast of east Central Florida.
In 2017, Florida had eight separate shark attacks during the first half of April coinciding with this increased shark and human activity during springtime.
Blacktip sharks 2 to 5-feet-long are present in the surf zone and shallow waters. Blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) are the number one species responsible for biting humans along the U.S. East Coast. The shark has black tips on its pectoral fins and grows to no more than about six feet.
Blacktip sharks can swim in just inches of water where toddlers often play.
Bull sharks (Carcharhinus brevipinna) are responsible for most of the fatal shark attacks in Florida. They are common along the east coast of Florida and juvenile bull sharks frequent the coast from Palm Beach, Florida to Daytona Beach, Florida. That’s because of the Indian River Lagoon, which extends along Florida’s east coast from southern Volusia County to Palm Beach County, is an important nursery habitat for baby bull sharks.
When fully grown, bull sharks reach 7 to 11 feet in length and weigh between 200 and 300 pounds.
Spinner sharks 2 to 4-feet-long are present off of Cocoa Beach, primarily around, and just beyond, the wave break. Spinner sharks (Carcharhinus brevipinna) can grow up to 9 feet long and have a unique feeding technique of leaping into the air while spinning.
Small Bonnethead sharks (also known as Shovelhead sharks) 2 to 3-feet-long that resemble Hammerhead sharks are present in the surf zone.
A few Portuguese Man-of-War are present along the beaches and in the ocean off Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Often, the Portuguese Man-of-War are entangled in the seaweed which makes it harder for beachgoers to see the stinging marine life before it is too late.
The Portuguese Man-of-War can be identified from other jellyfish in Florida by its translucent blue and purple gas-filled air sac that helps them travel long distances across the ocean by acting as a wind-driven sail (technically, Portuguese Man-of-War aren’t jellyfish but are instead a colony of small organisms called Siphonophorae) .
A violet-colored stinging tentacle cluster mass under the body can have tentacles that may extend up to ten or fifteen feet. These stinging, venom-filled tentacles are designed to paralyze small fish but can also deliver a powerful sting to humans who wade into the water or play on the beach.
Seaweed: A small amount of golden Sargassum seaweed is present along Brevard County beaches and in the surf zone which will make it harder to spot sharks and jellyfish in the water.