COCOA BEACH, Florida – Brevard County Ocean Rescue lifeguards temporarily closed a stretch of beach in Cocoa Beach on Saturday, May 25, 2019 due to sharks swimming in shallow water.
The sharks were spotted by lifeguards at the beach in front of Lori Wilson Park.
Lifeguards closed the beach from approximately 12:45 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
It’s Memorial Day weekend which means that thousands of beachgoers are visiting Cocoa Beach just when several species of sharks most responsible for biting humans are swimming off of the coast of east Central Florida.
FLORIDA SHARK ATTACKS BY MONTH
Historically, shark attack numbers begin to increase in late May and early June which coincides with increased shark and human activity during summer.
Florida Shark Attacks By Month
Florida Shark Attacks By Month. Credit: International Shark Attack File.
Shark Attacks Highest In East Central Florida
Florida accounted for 50% of all shark attacks in the U.S. and 24% of the world’s total in 2018.
Volusia County (Daytona Beach area) had the most shark attacks (4) representing 25% of the Florida total, but this number was significantly lower than the most recent five-year annual average of 10 incidents.
Brevard County (Cocoa Beach area) had the second most shark attacks (3) representing 19% of the Florida total.
Shark Attacks By Water Activity
Following recent trends, surfers and those participating in board sports accounted for most incidents (53% of the total cases).
This group spends a large amount of time in the surf zone, an area commonly frequented by sharks, and may unintentionally attract sharks by splashing, paddling and “wiping out.”
Swimmers and waders accounted for 30% of incidents, snorkelers/free divers 6%, scuba divers 5%, body-surfers (3%), and those participating in other shallow-water activities (3%).
Cocoa Beach Shark Species During Summer:
Blacktip sharks 2 to 5-feet-long are present in the surf zone and shallow waters. Blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) are the number one species responsible for biting humans along the U.S. East Coast. The shark has black tips on its pectoral fins and grows to no more than about six feet.
Blacktip sharks can swim in just inches of water where toddlers often play.
Bull sharks (Carcharhinus brevipinna) are responsible for most of the fatal shark attacks in Florida. They are common along the east coast of Florida and juvenile bull sharks frequent the coast from Palm Beach, Florida to Daytona Beach, Florida. That’s because of the Indian River Lagoon, which extends along Florida’s east coast from southern Volusia County to Palm Beach County, is an important nursery habitat for baby bull sharks.
When fully grown, bull sharks reach 7 to 11 feet in length and weigh between 200 and 300 pounds.
Spinner sharks 6 to 8-feet-long are present off of Cocoa Beach, primarily around, and just beyond, the wave break. Spinner sharks (Carcharhinus brevipinna) can grow up to 9 feet long and have a unique feeding technique of leaping into the air while spinning.
Small Bonnethead sharks (also known as Shovelhead sharks) 2 to 3-feet-long that resemble Hammerhead sharks are present in the surf zone.
How to avoid being bitten by a shark:
Sharks close beach in cocoa beach
In addition to spotting the telltale shark fins, fish jumping out of water or sea birds hovering at the surface of the water could indicate the presence of feeding sharks.
Always swim near a lifeguard area (their elevated position on a lifeguard tower is better for shark spotting) and pay attention to warning flags.
Brevard Times reports on shark attacks, shark bites, and shark sightings in Cocoa Beach sooner than any other local media source.