Florida retains title of ‘shark bite capital of the world,’ new data shows

Volusia County leads state with 7 bites in 2022

Shark near Ponce Inlet

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida had more reported shark bites than anywhere else on Earth last year, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File (ISAF).

In 2022, Florida had 16 cases of “unprovoked” attacks in 2020, representing 39% of the U.S. total and 28% of unprovoked attacks worldwide.

The ISAF defines unprovoked attacks as “incidents in which a bite on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the shark.”

Like previous years, Volusia County led the sunshine state with seven shark bites, with other cases reported in Monroe, Martin, Nassau, Pinellas, Brevard and Palm Beach counties.

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University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File

Only one shark attack documented in the U.S. was fatal — when a snorkeler went missing along Keawakapu Beach in Hawaii. Researchers confirmed 57 total cases of shark bites worldwide, which is lower than recent years.

According to ISAF, trends show both fatal and non-fatal bites are decreasing.

“It’s likely that fatalities are down because some areas have recently implemented rigorous beach safety protocols, especially in Australia,” said Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Florida Program for Shark Research.

Unlike previous years, data shows the majority of shark attacks happened to swimmers and waders at 43%, compared to surfers and other water sports (35% of total cases).

Though Florida did not have any fatal incidents, some of the cases affected children or were life-altering.

In August, 10-year-old Jameson Reeder Jr. had his leg amputated after he was attacked by a shark while snorkeling in the Florida Keys.

A 27-year-old woman was wading in waist-deep water at New Smyrna Beach in September when she was bitten, according to the Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue.

In December, a 10-year-old girl was hospitalized after a bite to her foot along Hobe Sound Beach.

The annual report does not account for attacks that “may have been prompted by mitigating circumstances, such as fishing lines cast in the direct vicinity of the incident or the presence of chum in the water,” a news release states.

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About the Author:

Katrina Scales joined News 6 as a TV producer in June 2021.