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Shark attacks are rare in Southwest Florida

Although Florida leads the nation in shark attacks
Posted at 6:57 AM, Jul 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-20 07:06:08-04

After a few recent shark attacks in Florida, some have been wondering how often it happens in Southwest Florida.

According to the International Shark Attack File, the last time an attack happened was 2 years ago on Fort Myers Beach.  A teenage boy had a minor injury to his arm after a possible small nurse shark bit him.

Shark attacks are extremely rare on the west coast of the state but it's a different story on the east coast.  That's where dozens of attacks happen every year, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

The most unprovoked shark attacks happened in Volusia County, with nearly 300 in the past 136 years.

Brevard County is second at almost 150 attacks and Palm Beach Couonty third at 75.

Florida led the world in shark attacks in 2013.

36 attacks have been deadly in Florida but not one person has died from a documented shark attack in over 130 years in Southwest Florida.

There has been a total of 17 attacks recorded in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties.

In the past 20 years, we've seen shark attacks in Naples, Bonita Springs, Sanibel Island, and Boca Grande. All of them ended with minor injuries.

While shark attacks are very rare in our area, one of the most dangerous sharks in world likes to call Southwest Florida home.

Experts say bull sharks enjoy fresh water as much as salt water.  Since 33 rivers feed the Gulf of Mexico, this is the perfect place for them to call home.

Bull sharks are considered one of the top three most dangerous sharks, right next to the great white and tiger sharks.

In the past few years, there have been reported sightings of bull sharks in the Caloosahatchee River.

However, the only unprovoked shark attack that's ever happened in the Caloosahatchee was in 1983 from a hammerhead shark.

There's only been one documented bull shark attack in our area. That was in 2013 on Sanibel Island. A 17-year-old boy was fishing and it bit his foot.

Although they are commonly seen by humans due to their habitat, their numbers are dwindling due to overfishing.

The chances of getting attacked by a shark are very slim. It’s about 1 in 4 million.

There are some ways to prevent yourself from being attacked. Experts say don't swim at night, don't enter the water if you're bleeding and don't wear shiny jewelry.

This is a link to track sharks in our area and worldwide.

Also, Florida Fish and Wildlife want your input on how to manage shark fishing in Sanibel Island.  One concern is that fishing from the beach can bring the animals closer to swimmers.

FWC is considering to better manage shore-based shark fishing by requiring a permit with certain classed be taken, banning chumming from the shore, and changing what parts of the beach and when you can fish.