10 Most Dangerous Places for Shark Attacks


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Volusia County, Florida
The huge numbers of tourists flocking to New Smyrna Beach is one reason there are a lot of shark attacks here. Lynne Rigby/Getty Images

Volusia County, Florida has had 299 attacks since 1882. [source: ISAF]. That's not only the highest number of shark attacks recorded in Florida, but it's more than South Africa, whose attacks occurred over 2,798 miles (4,503 kilometers) of coastline, as opposed to a single county.

Indeed, at New Smyrna Beach, located in Volusia, there are more incidents per square mile than on any other beach in the world [source: Luscombe]. If you've been swimming at New Smyrna, you've probably been within 10 feet (3 meters) of a shark [source: Regenold]. These distinctions have earned New Smyrna Beach the nickname "Shark Attack Capital of the World."

Volusia County has been in the top spot for decades. 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. There can be as many as 300 surfers in the water on a given day [source: Voyles-Pulver].

Being known as the "shark attack capital of the world" doesn't seem to dissuade surfers and swimmers, though. In fact, the deputy beach chief reported in 2001 that when he closed the beaches following shark sightings and attacks, he received angry voice mail messages [source: Canedy]. That may be because attacks in Volusia County are fairly mild and are usually just minor bites. Some shark attack victims even drive themselves to the hospital [sources: Taylor, Eckinger].

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Last editorial update on Jul 25, 2018 04:40:35 pm.

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