Florida #1 For Shark Attacks Worldwide In 2019

Image: Great White Shark. Credit: Greg Skomal / Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries

COCOA BEACH, Florida – Florida accounted for 51% of all shark attacks in the U.S. and 33% of the world’s total in 2019, according to the University of Florida International Shark Attack File (ISAF) 2019 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary.

The 21 unprovoked shark attacks in Florida in 2019 were significantly lower than the most recent five-year annual average of 32 incidents.

Shark Attacks Highest In East Central Florida

Volusia County (Daytona Beach area) had the most shark attacks (9) representing 43% of the Florida total which is in line with the recent five-year annual average for Volusia.

The remaining incidents occurred in Brevard (Cocoa Beach area) (2) and Duval (5) counties, with single incidents occurring in Broward, Martin, Nassau, Palm Beach, and St. Johns counties.

Researchers say that the higher number of shark bites in Florida waters closest to Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando is attributable to high aquatic recreational use by both Florida residents and tourists, including large numbers of surfers, and to the rich nature of its marine fauna.

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 25% of incidents, snorkelers/free divers 11%, scuba divers 3%, and body-surfers (8%).

U.S. Shark Attacks In 2019

Outside of Florida, unprovoked shark attacks also occurred in Hawaii (9), California (3), and North Carolina (3), with single incidents in Georgia, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and the Virgin Islands.