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Case study analyzes why, where and when of leading shark attack site
Date:5/26/2010

GAINESVILLE, Fla. Shark attacks are most likely to occur on Sunday, in less than 6 feet of water, during a new moon and involve surfers wearing black and white bathing suits, a first of its kind study from the University of Florida suggests.

Researchers analyzed statistics from shark attacks that occurred in Florida's Volusia County, dubbed the "Shark Attack Capital of the World," between 1956 and 2008. They also spent a year observing people between Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach, said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at UF.

"It's basically an analysis of why, where and when in an area that traditionally has had more shark-human interactions than any other stretch of coastline in the world," he said. "One of our students, Brittany Garner, essentially camped out there, counted the number of heads on the beach and took photographs."

While this 47-mile-long section of Central Florida's Atlantic coast leads in human-shark skirmishes, making up 21 percent of all global attacks between 1999 and 2008, most are "hit and run" incidents that seldom cause serious injury and no fatalities occurred, he said.

"Calling them attacks is probably a misnomer because the consequences are usually no more severe than a dog bite," he said. "They're not the same kind of bites made by 10- to 20-foot-long white sharks that you have off the coast of California. Here we see a different style of attack, primarily perpetrated by smaller fish-eating sharks such as spinners and blacktips that are less than 6 to 7 feet long, which because of their size normally seek smaller prey."

There have been 231 shark attacks between the first one reported in 1956 in Volusia County and 2008, said Burgess, who works at UF's Florida Museum of Natural History. The study, part of which was published recently in the edited volume "Sharks and Their Relatives II," uses statistics from 220 of those cases for which detailed informat
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Contact: George Burgess
gburgess@flmnh.ufl.edu
352-392-2360
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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