A paddleboarder was bitten by a shark Friday in the first reported bite of 2021 in Volusia County. The bite occurred in New Smryna Beach in Volusia County, Florida, home to Daytona Beach and the recognized shark-bite capital of America.
The 64-year-old local resident was bitten on the foot while sitting on her paddleboard in about 8 to 10 feet of water off the coast of New Smyrna Beach, according to officials with the Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue.
The Orlando Sentinel reported the woman was transported for medical treatment as a precaution. The marks on her foot appeared to be a shark bite, although the shark was not actually seen, officials said.
The incident comes one day after a 54-year-old man was bitten on the leg while swimming at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
Three other people were bitten during Spring Break the last week of March at beaches in Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.
The attacks are taking place in what officials believe is one of the world’s largest shark migrations happening off the coast of Florida.
“At this time of year, you have huge numbers of sharks right down here at the same time that we have lots of spring breakers in the water as well,” Stephen Kajiura, professor of biological sciences at Florida Atlantic University, said at the time of the three attacks.
Friday’s incident in Volusia is not out of the ordinary. According to figures compiled by the University of Florida, the county was the scene of the most attacks in the country in 2020.
Florida had 16 unprovoked attacks in 2020, accounting for 28 percent of the world’s total, the university’s International Shark Attack report concluded. Half of the Florida incidents occurred in Volusia.
Only one other country in the world, Australia with 18, had more attacks than Florida in 2020.
“It’s a dramatic spike, but it’s not yet cause for alarm,” said Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark research program.
Since 1882, there have been 320 unprovoked shark attacks in Volusia County, as many as the next four Florida counties combined.
“I think the frequency of white sharks swimming in the same places as humans may be on the rise,” Naylor said. “If so, we don’t yet know the cause.”
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