Verify: Breaking down fact and fiction about shark bites

Breaking down facts and fiction about Shark bites.

Have you heard these claims?

1. Florida is the shark bite capital of the world
2. Sharks don't bite close to shore
3. Sharks attack humans unprovoked

Are those claims true? Our Verify team decided to separate fact from fiction for First Coast News viewers. We verified several claims through a team of experts.

Who are our sources?

1. Data from the International Shark Attack File with the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida
2. Associate professor of biology at the University of North Florida and the director of UNF's shark biology program, Dr. Jim Gelseichter

CLAIM 1

According to UF's International Shark Attack File, the United States has the most confirmed shark bites in the world. Florida alone has seen more than half of all of the nation's bites.

In fact, since 1882, Duval County has seen 36 shark bites, but the Florida Museum of Natural History's data hasn't been updated since January of this year... bringing the current number for the Jacksonville area to 37.

That includes the two bites we saw just this past week. Volusia County has had the most shark bites in Florida with a grand total of 290.

That makes the first claim - TRUE.

The Sunshine State can be considered the shark bite capital of the world.

CLAIM 2 

Next on the list - Sharks don't bite close to shore... or do they?

Dr. Gelsleichter says shark bites are more common closer to shore because that's where most swimmers are.

However, he does go on to say shark bites can certainly happen in deeper waters as well. But the injured person then has less time to get back to shore which also decreases their chance for survival due to loss of blood.

So, the second claim - PLAUSIBLE.

CLAIM 3

Finally, the Verify team checked in with Dr. Gelsleichter to see if sharks attack humans unprovoked.

He says we prefer to call them bites rather than attacks since there is no malicious intent in the bite. It is not to minimize any pain or suffering of the injured person, but he goes on to say that virtually all of the inceidents in our region are better described as exploratory bits and spits with no return bites from the same shark.

The final claim - FALSE.

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If you have something you want us to verify, email us at verify@firstcoastnews.com.
 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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