Human, shark and environmental factors combine to create a perfect storm of favorable conditions in Volusia County for attacks, particularly near Ponce Inlet between Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach, he said.
The more people in the water the greater the chances they will encounter a shark, and New Smyrna Beach south of the inlet is a "hot spot" for surfers with its well developed sand bars and good waves, Burgess said. Hand splashing and feet kicking provoke sharks, which bite and release what they mistake for normal prey items in the turbid waters, he said.
Also, the strong tidal flow in the inlet makes it "an aquatic smorgasbord of food items for sharks, barracudas, mackerel and other large predators," boosting shark numbers, he said.
Young white males were attacked most because they spend the most time in the water, Burgess said. Ninety percent of victims were male, 77 percent of 196 victims were between 11 and 30 years old and in the 171 cases where race was known, 98 percent were white, he said.
Well over half of the 220 victims were bit on the leg 158 more than five times the number bit on the arms 34 the second highest body part to be injured, he said.
Surfers were the most frequent victims, making up 61 percent of the total, Burgess said. They tended to be bitten more in the early morning and late afternoon when waves were highest and they spend more time surfing, he said.
"At the time of the attack, most of the surfers were sitting or holding onto the board waiting for a wave, which explains why most surf victims were bitten on the legs," he said.
Sharks are not weekend warriors. Rather it is human leisure that leads to the fewest number of human encounters on Wednesdays and the highest on Sundays, followed by Saturdays, Burgess said. "There are a fair number of attacks on Fridays as well, reflective of people skipping work and taking three-day weekends," he sai
|Contact: George Burgess|
University of Florida