Do you worry about sharks in the ocean?

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.”

It recorded a record 24 shark attacks in 2008, according to The L.A. Times!

“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?

36 comments Add your comment

Sharks in the ocean? Well, I don't worry about them on land!

July 24th, 2009
7:35 am

Why not do a topic on peeing in the ocean like you did last year?

motherjanegoose

July 24th, 2009
7:36 am

Is this our Fun Friday topic….LOL….

We go to St. Augustine and Marco Island. We saw he cutest manatees in Marco Island this summer and also dolphins. I do not think we have been close enough to see sharks but yes I would be worried. Maybe they are lurking out there and I just do not see them.

I have heard this about New Smryna but I have never been there myself. I have also heard it is a beautiful beach.

I do try to remember that the ocean is not my actual habitat and to be respectful of who belongs in it.

JJ

July 24th, 2009
7:42 am

I worry more about jellyfish. And there were quite a few at PCB this past week…….

I like the ocean, but only if I can see my feet. That’s why I like the gulf, the water is very clear for a good distance.

Otherwise, you will find me at the pool.

JATL

July 24th, 2009
8:00 am

There are lots and lots of sharks in every ocean! That’s where they live, so when you jump in an encounter is always possible. I spent many summers in New Smyrna Beach as an adult and knowing of the shark attacks. I still floated around on my raft every time! I think it’s important to understand where you are and what habitats you’re in. Most any beach or ocean doesn’t bother me even though I know there are tons of sharks. We were on the Gulf in June and a guy fishing caught a small reef shark (about 3 feet long), and threw it back. My 3 year old was fascinated, but we stayed in the water! I do advise staying away from beach fishing people -bait and flopping fish only help attract sharks.

Just as I would not go hiking on Kodiak Island due to the enormous and aggressive bear population, I wouldn’t swim in common great white waters. They’re known for attacking anything that looks like a seal (and we do, especially from below), and they’re big enough so that their bites are lethal or horribly mangling. Especially dark and murky water and any ocean water around dusk or at night is more likely to yield an attack. Also, if you are bleeding (and this includes menstruating women), you may want to cut your ocean time short. The girl whose arm was bitten off near Pensacola a few years ago was far out and she had her period. Be especially careful whenever you’re in a location known for Bull sharks, Tiger sharks or Hammerheads -those are particularly aggressive breeds.

However, I say if you enjoy the ocean, snorkeling and diving as much as I do then go for it. You can get hurt or killed doing almost anything, and actually being attacked by a shark is still REALLY rare and improbable. You have more of a chance of being hit by lightning!

Photius

July 24th, 2009
8:16 am

Perhaps the next topic will be, “Do you fear Aliens near your day care might insert a probe in the teacher?”

BShepC

July 24th, 2009
8:42 am

just don’t go in the water late afternoon…isn’t that when they are hungry? I worry, but my husband says I worry too much.

JJ

July 24th, 2009
8:51 am

Do you worry about someone breaking into your house when you are away (yesterday’s topic).

Do you worry about plane crashes when you fly?

Do you worry about accidents when you drive?

Do you worry about worrying?

Are you a worry-wart?

There are some things that are out of our control. If you go through live worrying about every little thing, you won’t enjoy your time here.

What you can do is pay attention to your surroundings. You can’t play the “What-if….?” game. You are just inviting drama into your life.

Relax, take a pill, have a cocktail.

coriinne

July 24th, 2009
8:59 am

Photius she will never have her kids in day care because of her fears (germs, fires, you name it, salmonelle viris, diarrea, other kids spitting-puking.

What about the tires on the car? They can blow out on a trip to the beach.

Oh wait – the tires blow out, the house is broken into, the children get MRSA, and they recover and be stung by lots of mosqitoes.

April

July 24th, 2009
9:03 am

I think about the sharks, but I worry more about the riptide and currents. We rarely go our past knee level. We enjoy playing in the pools at low tide, playing in the sand, and finding interesting shells and creatures. When it is time to swim, it is time to hit the pool.

roadking

July 24th, 2009
9:25 am

I live in New Smyrna Beach and I can tell you that the attacks happen in one area, this is up by the jetties which are located north of the main tourist area.. The inlet is there and at high tide the water gets murky and the bait fish come and therefore the sharks come in, so the answer is stay away from that area at that time and you can enjoy our beautiful beaches and our great hospitality.

JJ

July 24th, 2009
9:26 am

Do you worry about plane crashes when you fly?

Do you worry about accidents when you drive?

Relax, and enjoy life. There are some things you cannot control. Sharks in the ocean is one of them.

DB

July 24th, 2009
9:44 am

I’m not a big worrier about stuff like that. It’s a big world, and I’m going to try not to limit myself out of fear. Caution is reasonable — as Roadking noted, the shark attacks can be traced to a natural phenomenon, and a reasonable person would certainly avoid that area at that time of day. But fear? Nope.

DB

July 24th, 2009
9:53 am

I have a friend who is VERY nervous about things that are beyond her control — however, she is a bit of a control freak, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. What shocked me, though, is that she refused to consider a trip to Australia, because, according to a program she saw, Australia was home to several of the world’s most venomous snakes. There was no reasoning with her — even teasing her that the snakes did not run up the tarmac and greet you at the airplane door with fangs bared. Yes, Australia does have venomous snakes — but it’s not as though they are lying on the street corners in Sydney! So does India, so does Sri Lanka, so does America . . . And, as one exasperated Australian herpetologist exclaimed, “We have more people dying from honeybee stings than we do from snakes — why aren’t HONEYBEES feared so much?”

HB

July 24th, 2009
10:07 am

Yes, sharks worry me (St. Simons and Jekyll are big shark spots), but not as much as riptides on the Georgia coast. The families I babysat for on St. Simons NEVER let their kids swim in the ocean. They could sit on the wet sand and let the waves wash over them and back out, search for shells, and build sandcastles, so they never felt like they were missing out on anything. For real swimming, we hit the pool.

That’s funny about the snakes, DB. I am terrified of snakes, but frankly, can’t imagine being all that much more scared of Australian poisonous ones than Georgia copperheads, dimondbacks, or corals. Seems to me things are gonna be awfully bad if any of them bite you…

nurse&mother

July 24th, 2009
10:15 am

Funny thing, DB. I have this huge fear of bees. I have desensitized myself somewhat over the years. But wasps and hornets REALLY scare me. I am sincerely concerned about the africanized bees coming my way. Not sure what I am going to do when that happens.

I don’t worry so much about sharks. Although, I don’t like going much past my shoulders.

Theresa, we had those same canvas rafts. We used to go the sand bar as well. Very cool. I’m not sure I would let my daughter do that alone (like I did at her age).

Theresa Giarrusso

July 24th, 2009
10:18 am

I didn’t realize I had a scaredy cat theme going on these last two days as I was writing but I do see it now. I guess I’m just thinking about vacation and I’ve been wanting to write about New Smyrna for a while. It’s just amazing to go to someplace soooo long and then be afraid to go back. I am interested in what the resident said — I’ll have to investigate that more.

motherjanegoose

July 24th, 2009
10:19 am

DB…eee gads my husband is nuts over both bees and snakes.

Our son has always wanted to go to Australia and I mentioned ( to my husband) that this would be a NICE treat for our son since he just got into Pharmacy School. The two of them could go. I take over 30 trips per year on planes, so I am not interested.

Anyway, I will not share this info with him….LOL.

When I was a girl, we had a snake crawl in our fire place and into our house. It was only a black snake but e were petrified that it was inside our house…we lived on a 400 acre farm…our neighbor came over to kill it.

I do not worry about plane or car crashes. If I did, I would then be worried about an empty pantry and the mortgage as there wouldn’t be enough money to pay the bills. LOL.

JATL

July 24th, 2009
10:38 am

Theresa, the native of NSB is correct. The attacks happen by the jetties. That’s also where most of the surfers go in that area, so they are the ones usually attacked.

Hey -I’m completely and totally freaked out by spiders. I am an actual arachnaphobe. I start having panic and anxiety attack symptoms whenever I see them, but they are EVERYWHERE, it’s illogical and I just have to tell myself that. I love to be outside, to hike and to camp. I also love tropical climates and places, so there are lots of big nasty spiders, but I go anyway. You can’t go through life scared.

To DB -I honestly don’t know if I could tolerate a friend that stupid. Unless she’s living in the Arctic Circle, Hawaii or Ireland, doesn’t she know that a venomous snake could cross her path just about anytime or anywhere? Hope she doesn’t live in GA -lots of rattlers and water moccasins here. Found a cottonmouth in my back yard in East Atlanta and a baby one on my front porch over in Grant Park. Like spiders -they’re everywhere!

JJ

July 24th, 2009
12:12 pm

I don’t have a problem with spiders. I think they are pretty fascinating. I love watching them build their webs.

The only thing I don’t like, is walking throught their webs. One builds her web under my deck, across the support poles, and when I take the dogs out early in the a.m. I walk right through it. Icky, icky ewwww……

YUKI

July 24th, 2009
1:18 pm

I never really worry about sharks very much at the beach. I agree and worry more about the gross jelly fish. I will stay in very shallow water this year at the beach, though especially since I have a toddler who has never been and will most likely be playing in the sand and at the pool.
I guess you are taking a chance by swimming in the beach, but like everyone else said, you take a bigger chance driving your car every day. Many more people are hurt/killed by car accidents than attacked by sharks.

Valstake

July 24th, 2009
1:40 pm

You and the family could have a nice time at the beach without ever going into the water, Theresa. Let the kids play in the sand, collect shells, and splash their feet in the water at the shoreline. Just because you’re frightened of sharks, don’t lessen their fun because of it. You’re being overly paranoid about shark attacks. Enjoy your many future vacations at the beach!

jct

July 24th, 2009
1:58 pm

Hey, you don’t have to just worry about sharks at Tybee. Now it gators. haha!

I wrote earlier this morning...

July 24th, 2009
2:43 pm

…that I sure did not worry about sharks on land, but as jct has pointed out, I DO worry about 9 foot alligators on the beach!

JATL

July 24th, 2009
2:51 pm

Yeah, I’m not too excited about the thought of looking over from my beach book to realize that a 9 foot gator has taken up residence beside me….

JJ

July 24th, 2009
3:47 pm

JATL – LOL….that’s funny……

Everyone have a great weekend. I look foward to our college topic next week!!!!!

Caricatureking

July 24th, 2009
5:45 pm

I’d be more worried about the obvious typo in the headline.

motherjanegoose

July 24th, 2009
5:49 pm

I DID NOT NOTICE THAT and I am usually a spelling freak. I guess I have been off of work WAY to long…..LOL. Back to work for me!

Happy Friday everyone.

Our dear friend has been putting in a hardwood floor with my husband ( this week) and I cannot wait to see it finished. They are weary but determined and it will be so nice…I am excited. Thank goodness for wonderful friends….a true blessing.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 24th, 2009
5:53 pm

fast typing leads to bad spelling!! thank you!!

DB

July 24th, 2009
9:01 pm

N&M, I hate, hate, HATE wasps. Bees, for some reason, I can stand, but wasps and yellow jackets will bring out the screaming meemies! I used to freak out at spiders, but I’ve gotten better in the last decade or so. I tried very hard not to pass on the irrational fears to my kids, so I tried to be somewhat calm when confronted with the occasional wasp that would get in the house, or the spider in the basement, etc., etc. , which helped. But I still shudder at wasps . . .

JATL, I’m not going to change my friend, and she has many, many other wonderful qualities — but everyone is irrational about something, and that’s hers!

Shark On Long Island | All Days Long

July 24th, 2009
9:57 pm

[...] Do your worry about sharks in the ocean? | A Blog for Busy Moms … By Theresa Walsh Giarrusso We go to St. Augustine and Marco Island. We saw he cutest manatees in Marco Island this summer and also dolphins. I do not think we have been close enough to see sharks but yes I would be worried. Maybe they are lurking out there and I just do … Most any beach or ocean doesn't bother me even though I know there are tons of sharks. We were on the Gulf in June and a guy fishing caught a small reef shark (about 3 feet long), and threw it back. My 3 year old was fascinated, … A Blog for Busy Moms – MOMania – http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/ [...]

Jesse's Girl

July 25th, 2009
7:53 am

Theresa…I am so with ya girl! I LOVE to look at the ocean, hear it, taste it and wade into it all the way up to my….ankles! But its my only great fear. I have parasailed, jumped out of a mechanically sound plane, climbed huge a$$ rocks in Utah….I’m no pansy chicken:) But after my very real shark encounter in Myrtle Beach 15 years ago….I have issues. I didn’t like the “unknown” of the ocean before that. I don’t like not being able to see whats beneath me…completely freaks me out. Its just not my thing…as Jesse says. But I do not allow my irrational…albeit very real and substantiated…fear of sharks affect my children. Jesse takes them out pretty far. But if I am being honest, I am on shore having mini panick attacks….

JATL

July 25th, 2009
10:05 am

I think DB brings up a good point about not passing irrational fears onto our kids. Maybe that could be a whole different topic? One of my main issues with my mother and mother-in-law is that they’re scared of EVERYTHING and we really have to be vigilant so that they’re not passing it all on to our boys. We’ve talked to them numerous times about it. Like I said, I’m terrified of spiders, but I’ve gone out of my way to tell my 3 year old how cool they are, the service they provide us (we couldn’t inhabit the planet without them), and just to look but never touch because they bite. I would hate for people to scare their kids about the ocean and sharks (sharks are becoming quite endangered and they need friends!) -we need to alert them to safety issues involved with swimming in the ocean but make sure they know that sharks belong there and usually will never bother them.

Lisa

July 26th, 2009
9:32 am

Very much so, which is why our vacation home is on Lake Hartwell! No gators, no sharks, beautiful views of the mountains, uncrowded. Heaven on earth!

Alanis Morissette would be proud . . .

July 27th, 2009
6:48 am

“I DID NOT NOTICE THAT and I am usually a spelling freak. I guess I have been off of work WAY to long…..LOL. Back to work for me!”

Now THAT is funny!

Lake hartwell land | Lake Land and Lots

July 30th, 2009
12:30 pm

[...] Posted July 30, 2009 at 11:28 am Do your worry about sharks in the ocean? | A Blog for Busy Moms …Well, I don’t worry about them on land! July 24th, 2009 7:35 am. Why not do a topic on peeing in the ocean like you did last year? Link; Report this comment. motherjanegoose. July 24th, 2009 7:36 am. Is this our Fun Friday topic….LOL…. We go to St. Augustine and Marco ….. July 26th, 2009 9:32 am. Very much so, which is why our vacation home is on Lake Hartwell! No gators, no sharks, beautiful views of the mountains, uncrowded. Heaven on earth! Link; Report this comment …  read more… [...]

Tianca

August 2nd, 2009
3:24 pm

I live an hour from the Mississippi, and what scared me was learning that Bull sharks swim in the freshwater rivers. I never get to the ocean, but I do the river!!! Now these Bull sharks have a nasty temper, and aren’t scared of anything. They are aggressive, and can easily kill you. So I’m not worried about sharks in the ocean, I’m worried about them in the river.

But you haven’t lived until you go to your favorite swimming hole only to discover a 15 ft. crocodile sunning itself on the beach. THAT sobers you up real fast!!! Good old Florida, DeFuniak Springs is where I saw that. A public, lake beach. You never expect to see that there. But you need to remember, all those lakes have underwater links to each other, springs!!! Most don’t think of that!!!

From now on, I swim only in chlorine pools.

Tianca
Tianca