Sarasota County is offering tips to minimize the chances of being bitten by a shark in the Gulf of Mexico. Two teenagers were bitten recently in the Gulf off Panhandle beaches. One of them died; the other lost his leg. First and foremost, despite the recent incidents, the International Shark Attack file at the University of Florida reports a decline in Florida shark attacks from 30 in 2003 to 12 in 2004, none of which were fatal. Prior to Saturday’s death of a Louisiana girl at a beach near Destin, the last fatality from a shark attack in Florida was 2001. Experts say the chances of getting struck by lightning are much greater than the chances of being attacked by a shark. However, there are some tips to keep in mind. Number one, says Sarasota county’s supervisor for aquatic safety, Roy Routh, is don’t swim alone.
“Make sure you swim with a partner or with a group. I think it’s wise to swim in the guarded swim area because you have lifeguards that can view you from up on high. They have a vantage point and they can see if a predator entered the swim zone. If the water is very murky for example, it makes it difficult for us to tell whether there’s a shark in the water or not. If you’re out swimming in the water and you find yourself in a school of baitfish I would suggest moving away from the school of baitfish.”
Routh also suggests staying away from fishermen. If they land a fish, other predatory animals may follow it shore. Don’t swim at night, when sharks generally feed, and avoid jewelry and shiny bathing suits that sharks can mistake as injured or unhealthy fish. Also, if you have a cut or wound, stay out of the water. August and September are the peak months for shark attacks.
Thursday, 30 June 2005 01:00