Top 5 Shark Infested Spots in the U.S.

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Written by Kristen Rogers
July 23, 2018

Shark Week is here, but have no fear! Boatsetter is helping you steer clear of the U.S. most infested spots this Summer.

Shark Week has become a phenomenon, and tourists travel all around the world to get up close and personal with some of the most dangerous animals in the ocean. For those who have not yet been swept away by the Shark Week mania, it is a week-long TV programming block created in 1988 by the Discovery Channel which features shark-based shows, events, and activities.

The worst place in America for shark attacks? Florida. Statistics from The International Shark Attack File, a database of shark attacks from around the world, show that Florida’s coast has witnessed a total of 812 confirmed and unprovoked shark attacks since 1837, at least those that have been recorded. With statistics like this, Boatsetter is going to guide you through the shark-infested waters of the United States and run through where to keep an eye out for our big teethed ocean friends.

Florida

Dubbed the “Shark Attack Capital of the World,” Daytona Beach, Florida, has been the home of 275 shark-related incidents since 1882. Two Florida cities, Cocoa Beach and Palm Beach, have had 130 attacks and 69 attacks, respectively. There were 13 unprovoked shark attacks – one fatal – in Florida in 2010, statistically the most likely place in the world to get bitten by a shark. That likelihood shows no sign of abating this year. Of the 71 attacks that occurred in the world in 2007, 32 of them happened in Florida.

Florida has so many attacks that it warrants two spots on this list, the first being the beaches that make up Brevard County. In the waters of Brevard County, 122 attacks and one fatality have occurred since 1882. Florida has a lot of shark attacks simply because it has a lot of tourists, and Brevard County is an easy hour-long drive for those already in the area to see Mickey at Disney World in Orlando. The county is home to the famed “Space Coast,” 70 miles (113 kilometers) of coastline named for the space center at Cape Canaveral. In addition to the Canaveral National Seashore, visitors can also enjoy Cocoa Beach and Melbourne Beach. While the shark attacks are nothing to sneeze at, Brevard County is dangerous for a few other reasons as well. In 2008, Forbes named Brevard County beaches the most dangerous place for rip-current drowning. In 2007, 10 people drowned because of the rip currents, a rate that’s higher than any other county in the United States. Parts of this coastline also fall into Florida’s “Lightning Alley,” an area that has the most lightning in the United States. So when you’re not worried about sharks, worry about the forecast.

While Volusia County, Florida ranks over that with 267 attacks since 1882, but none of them fatal. In New Smyrna Beach there are more incidents per square mile than on any other beach in the world. If you’ve been swimming at New Smyrna, you’ve probably been within 10 feet (3 meters) of a shark. These distinctions have earned New Smyrna Beach the nickname “Shark Attack Capital of the World.” Are the people swimming at New Smyrna Beach particularly delicious? Are the sharks hungrier here? While the area is home to many baitfish, a common prey for these sharks, the real reason for the high number of attacks is simply the number of people in the water. Swimmers and fishermen flock to these waters, and the beaches in this county are some of the most popular in the state for surfing.

Hawaii

Another spot to avoid, or flock to, is Hawaii. There have been 56 attacks since 1828 on Maui. Oahu has witnessed 38 recorded attacks during the same time period, but 13 of those incidents took place in 2013 alone.

What’s a trip to Hawaii without a stop in Oahu or Maui? Almost half of Hawaii’s 136 shark attacks since 1882 have occurred off the coasts of these two islands, with 36 attacks and three fatalities occurring in Maui and 34 attacks and six fatalities in Oahu. Other islands aren’t safe either, with 19 attacks occurring off Kauai and 12 off the big island of Hawaii. This total is fairly low when you consider the millions of tourists who visit each year, but you should still be on the lookout for the approximately 40 species of shark that call Hawaii home. One of these species is the dangerous tiger shark, responsible for the most attacks on humans after the great white. Hawaii has a mixed record when it comes to dealing with sharks. On the one hand, a 1959 fatal attack led to a decades-long shark eradication program sponsored by the government. On the other hand, some native Hawaiians call the tiger shark aumakua, or guardian spirit.

North & South Carolina

Since 1837, 82 shark attacks and two fatalities have occurred in South Carolina. Though they occur all along the state’s coastline, the majority have occurred in Horry County, home to popular Myrtle Beach. As this list will reveal, more people in the water generally increases the chance of a shark attack. Almost 40 species of shark are indigenous to South Carolina’s waters. The species are generally mild, including the sandbar and bonnethead sharks, but more aggressive species, including the tiger and the bull shark, have been spotted. South Carolina’s offshore estuaries provide good birthing and feeding grounds for these sharks. Several factors keep South Carolina from being as dangerous as Florida. At North Myrtle Beach, the continental shelf, where sharks find many fish to feast on, is located 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) out from the coastline. In Florida, that shelf can come within a mile of the shore. We’ll have much more on Florida later, but as another comparison, the waves are generally milder at beaches such as Myrtle, so fish aren’t being thrown inshore with sharks in hot pursuit. It should be noted that escaping to the other Carolina won’t eliminate the threat of sharks. North Carolina is no slouch in the shark attack department either, with 52 attacks and 3 fatalities.

California

Since 1926, San Diego has only had 17 attacks and two fatalities. Shark attacks in California are much more likely to occur farther north, in the infamous Red Triangle. About 90 miles (145 kilometers) of Northern California coastline between Point Reyes and Monterey Bay from one side of the Red Triangle; from those two points, lines extend to meet just past the Farallon Islands, to the west of San Francisco. These waters are home to lots of seals, which in turn attract lots of great white sharks. But within the Red Triangle are many beaches that attract surfers, including Bolinas Beach and Stinson Beach. One tour guide operator deemed Stinson “the granddaddy of all shark beaches”. While the Red Triangle is known for the great whites, the rest of the state’s coastline also holds the possibility of attack. Since 1926, 114 attacks and 10 fatalities have occurred in this state, Surf Beach, north of Santa Barbara, Calif. Shark attacks are relatively common in the waters off northern California, but one attack in central California in 2010 drew a lot of attention. Nineteen-year-old surfer Luke Ransom was catching large waves in the waters off Vandenberg Air Force base near Santa Barbara when he was attacked by an 18-foot great white. The surfer did not get back to shore in time and bled to death.

With all of this in mind, it is important to remember that Sharks are misunderstood and not intentionally looking to go after humans. Sharks have gotten a bad reputation over the years as bloodthirsty man-eaters. We challenge you to take a second look at these magnificent creatures and to fight fear with facts. If you proceed with caution and respect their homes, then there is no reason humans and Sharks cannot enjoy the beautiful oceans in peace. Find a boat from the Boatsetter website to dive in and observe the beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.


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