Florida Has This One "Silver Lining" Amid Soaring Coronavirus Cases
The state usually leads the world in shark attacks, but bites are significantly down this year.
As much of the world is still solidly in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic, it can seem like good news is rare. But even as the state's number of cases continues to rise, Florida has found a silver lining: Shark attacks are down compared to previous years.
WKMG News 6 reported on Tuesday that the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File (ISAF) released updated statistics on "unprovoked shark bites." Between the first of the year and June 18, only 18 attacks had been reported worldwide. This is down from 24 unprovoked shark bites over the same period in 2019 and 28 in 2018. According to the ISAF, seven of this year's attacks occurred in the United States, and only two of them happened in Florida. The attacks that did take place in Florida caused only minor injuries, according to WKMG News 6.
"There haven't been many silver linings when it comes to this virus, but there is one and it's especially true if you spend a lot of time on the Central Florida shores," said one anchor at WKMG News 6. "We'll take any positive news we can get," her co-host responded.
According to its website, the ISAF is "the world’s only scientifically documented, comprehensive database of all known shark attacks" and it's based out of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Researchers say on the official site that 2019 also showed an "unusual decrease in bites." The total for the year marked a 22 percent drop from the previous five-year average. But 2020 represents another drop, which the ISAF posits is due to fewer people being on beaches and in the water due to lockdown and other coronavirus concerns. However, ISAF manager Tyler Bowling did say that "there could be other factors" contributing to the low numbers (though he didn't specify what those could be).
The global numbers dropping is especially significant to Florida as the state annually records the most shark bites of any location worldwide. The ISAF notes that 236 of 794 shark bites reported between 2010 to 2019 globally took place in Florida. Only one of those attacks was fatal.
But Florida isn't out of the woods yet. WKMG News 6 noted that the number of attacks normally goes up in July. And with many beaches now open, more swimmers will be putting themselves in harm's way. Still, the chances of being bitten by a shark are extremely low overall. (The ISAF's tips to keep safe include staying away from schools of fish, not swimming at dawn or dusk, and not wearing any jewelry in the water.)
For now, COVID-19 is still the summer's biggest danger, with Florida logging thousands of new cases daily. And for more on that, here are 7 States Where Coronavirus Numbers Are Surging Right Now.