I am of the “Jaws” generation, but I never let being scared to death of the movies keep me from swimming and riding waves deep out in the ocean when I was a kid. We’d swim out to the sand bar with our canvas rafts and ride waves until the tide came back in.
What I haven’t mentioned yet, is that the beach we used to go to every summer for probably 15 years was New Smyrna beach in Florida. New Smyrna beach is about an hour south of Daytona and as of the last few years has hard a rather large amount of shark attacks!
A USA Today article from a year ago proclaims: “New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County, Fla., is the shark attack capital of the world, according to a database called the International Shark Attack File.”
“Most people who have swum in and around New Smyrna have been within 10 feet of a shark in their lifetime,” says George Burgess, an ichthyologist and fisheries biologist at the University of Florida who maintains the International Shark Attack File (ISAF).
(That includes me people! Now I’m upset!)
Web sites like The Fear Beneath, The Shark Attack Monitor and Sufthenow.com keep track of attacks. Surfthenow even has graphics showing the number of attacks and photos showing the sharks in the water! (Oh and look there’s me next to it on an itty, bitty float!!)
My brother and I always thought we’d take our kids, there but since learning about all the shark attacks neither one of us will go back. (Sorry New Smyrna we do miss you!)
I think I am far more paranoid now as a parent about sharks being in the water than I was a kid. Last summer in Savannah, there were all kinds of little sharks swimming around our legs. I’m not sure my little niece has gone back in since last summer when she had a several-foot shark right by her leg!
Do you worry about sharks when you take your kids into the ocean? How deep will you go with them? Do you think the Gulf of Mexico is safer than the Atlantic? Are there any beaches you won’t go to because you fear possible shark attacks?