COCOA BEACH, Florida – For the second time in less than a week, swimmers were temporarily ordered out of the Atlantic Ocean by Brevard County Ocean Rescue lifeguards along a stretch of beach in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Lifeguards spotted two black tip sharks which measured about 5 feet long near the Cocoa Beach Pier around noon on Monday, July 13, 2015. After approximately two hours, the lifeguards took down the “No Swimming” red flags and beachgoers were allowed back into the water.
One Florida man defied the lifeguards and continued to wade in knee-deep water while using a metal detector. The lone man in the water caught the attention of one shark which repeatedly swam past him. When the shark approached the man head-on, he used his beach scoop to stop the shark’s advances.
According to NOAA, the number one shark species responsible for biting people along the beaches on the U.S. East Coast is the black tip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus). The shark has black tips on its pectoral fins and grows to no more than about six feet.
There have been several shark bites off east Central Florida since Memorial Day. According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) 2014 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary, Florida ranks #1 in the number of unprovoked shark bites. Within the Sunshine State, Volusia County ranks number 1 and Brevard County, which covers Cocoa Beach, ranks number 2.
Bull sharks and Blacktip sharks around 4-5 feet long have either been spotted or caught near-shore within the last two months off Cocoa Beach, Florida, along with smaller Bonnethead sharks which resemble Hammerhead sharks.
Signs of sharks in the water: In addition to spotting the telltale shark fins, fish jumping out of water or sea birds hovering at the surface of the water could indicate the presence of feeding sharks. Swim near a lifeguard area (their elevated position on a lifeguard tower is better for shark spotting) and pay attention to warning flags.