COCOA BEACH, Florida – Florida accounted for 50% of all shark attacks in the U.S. and 24% of the world’s total in 2018, according to the University of Florida International Shark Attack File (ISAF) 2018 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary.
The 16 unprovoked shark attacks in Florida in 2018 were significantly lower than the most recent five-year annual average of 30 incidents.
Shark Attacks Highest In East Central Florida
Volusia County (Daytona Beach area) had the most shark attacks (4) representing 25% of the Florida total, but this number was significantly lower than the most recent five-year annual average of 10 incidents.
The remaining incidents occurred in Brevard (3), Nassau (2) and St. Lucie (2) counties, with single incidents occurring in Duval, Monroe, Palm Beach, Pinellas and St. Johns counties.
Researchers say that the higher number of shark bites in Florida waters closest to Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando is attributable to high aquatic recreational use by both Florida residents and tourists, including large numbers of surfers, and to the rich nature of its marine fauna.
Shark Attacks By Water Activity
Following recent trends, surfers and those participating in board sports accounted for most incidents (53% of the total cases).
This group spends a large amount of time in the surf zone, an area commonly frequented by sharks, and may unintentionally attract sharks by splashing, paddling and “wiping out.”
Swimmers and waders accounted for 30% of incidents, snorkelers/free divers 6%, scuba divers 5%, body-surfers (3%), and those participating in other shallow-water activities (3%).
U.S. Shark Attacks In 2018
Elsewhere in the U.S., unprovoked shark attacks occurred in Hawaii (3), North Carolina (3), South Carolina (3), Massachusetts (2), and New York (2).
Single incidents occurred in California, Georgia, and Texas. Significantly, the United States had one fatal incident in 2018 that occurred in Massachusetts. This was the first fatality in the United States since 2015 and the first fatal incident in Massachusetts since 1936.
Image: Great White Shark. Credit: Greg Skomal / Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries