Two swimmers were injured after suffering shark bites in separate incidents on the same Florida beach over Labor Day weekend.
A 37-year-old woman from Apopka, Florida, was bitten on her right foot when she was in waist-deep water on the Ponce Inlet beach. She did not see the shark that bit her, according to a news release from Volusia County Beach Safety.
The woman was treated at a hospital and is expected to recover, said the officials.
The second victim was a man in his 30s, who was bit on the hand by a shark while he was surfing near the Ponce Inlet Jetty. He refused medical care at the scene and drove himself to a hospital. His condition is unknown.
It’s the second notable shark attack in Volusia County in recent weeks, after a college student was bitten along a different beach in the area in late July.
The attacks in Florida are part of a pattern of bites across the US this summer, including in New York and the Carolinas, that has left beachgoers on edge along the Atlantic.
Red flags were flown on Volusia County beaches Monday morning, warning of high-hazard conditions such as high surf and strong currents.
There will be no efforts to hunt and capture the sharks, said Captain A.J. Miller, the logistics captain for Volusia County Beach Safety. He added that bites in the area were ‘normally accidental in nature.’
Volusia County in Florida boasts the highest number of shark attacks, totaling 343 incidents from 1882 to the present day, according to data from the International Shark Attack File.
Blacktip and bull sharks were the two shark species mostly involved in biting incidents in Volusia County but neither poses a significant threat to humans.
Although Volusia County sees more shark bites and attacks than anywhere else across the country, only three shark bites in the county have been recorded so far this year. There were seven shark bites reported in 2022 and 16 in 2021.
The United States has led the number of shark attacks in the world.
Roughly 1,600 unprovoked shark attacks in the U.S. has been recorded since the 16th century. The next country with the most attacks, Australia, has seen less than half than the U.S., totaling 691.
The number of yearly shark attacks has risen over the last 70 years; in 1950, there were 50 reports of shark attacks worldwide, and by 2020 the average number of bites each year had risen to 70.
Last year, the country saw 41 of 57 confirmed cases worldwide, which is a shocking 72 percent of the world’s total for 2022.
Florida is by far the shark capital of the world, registering 16 unprovoked nonlethal bites last year – the most attacks of any other state or any single place, for that matter.
Volusia County saw 44 percent of the total attacks in Florida.
New York saw the next most attacks last year, with eight total. Hawaii was next, with five total bites, one of which was fatal.
Shark experts have offered advice on how to avoid a shark attack.
Biologist Jeff Corwin warned ‘if you’re in a healthy marine ecosystem… you’re often never more than 100 yards from a shark’.
‘An awful lot of attacks occur in river mouths, where there is silt and other material in suspension in the river — people washing their clothes, people washing themselves,’ Richard Peirce, the former chair of UK-based Shark Trust and Shark Conservation Society, suggested.
Beach-goers should also avoid swimming early in the morning or late at night, Peirce said, explaining: ‘A lot of shark attacks are cases of mistaken identity due to reduced ability and identification ability on behalf of the sharks.’
On the same token, Chris Lowe, professor in marine biology and director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach, said people should try not to wear anything shiny in the water.
A harrowing shark attack struck college student Chris Pospisil, 21, in Volusia County earlier this year.
The college student was chasing waves when he was attacked in the waters of Volusia County’s New Smyrna Beach on July 14. Fortunately, his good surfing buddy Reece Redish was close at hand, and jumped into action to save him.
Pospisil suffered serious injuries, but surgeons managed to save his foot, and he believes the outcome could have been far worse if his friend had failed to act.
In the same month, Natalie Branda, 26, was bitten by sharks in Florida. She was ‘extremely lucky’ to be alive after surviving a boat party shark attack by one of the most aggressive species.
The attack, which left Branda needing 14 stitches, came when the Gulf Coast city local sailed out to Tampa Bay with friends on July 29 for a birthday party.
‘We were jumping off the boat, swimming around, floating for a few hours – just having a fun day, ‘ she said.
But their idyllic celebration turned to chaos as the group finished up their swim around dusk – the time when sharks, as mostly nocturnal creatures, are most active.
‘I just felt pressure, and it released, and I was like: ‘I got bit!” she said.
‘I swam the fastest I ever swam to the boat.’