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Shark Attacks Jacksonville, Florida, Surfer: Fan’s Reaction
On March 5th, 2012 the first reported shark attack of the season on a surfer in Jacksonville, Florida, made its way into the news. It caught my eye because I have been to the area many times and have had my own encounter with a shark. Here are a few more details:
About the Shark Attack
The 2012 season's first shark attack victim was 19 year old Justin Worrall. He was kite surfing in Brevard County, Jacksonville, when a shark bit his leg. The bite required three stitches. It wasn't the first time in history that a surfer has been bitten in Jacksonville. I can recall at least two incidents in the summer of 2010 when a surfer was believed to have bitten by a shark at Jacksonville Beach. The first took place in June and the second took place in July. The victim in the June attack allegedly needed 29 stitches to seal her wound and the victim in the July attack needed over 400 stitches to repair his.
Avoiding Shark Attacks
I've always been told that one way to reduce your chances of a shark attack is to avoid looking like bait. That means avoiding pods of bait fish, watching what you wear and not swimming when there is blood in the water. It's also good to avoid surfing in periods of low light and where the river meets the sea. In Jacksonville the St. John's River meets the Atlantic Ocean, so I try to keep that last one in mind. I've also heard that if you are confronted with a shark that you should stay calm, remain still and try to defend yourself with whatever you have available. Doing those things did work for me during my shark encounter.
My Shark Encounter
My encounter with a shark took place several years ago and didn't result in any injuries. At the time of the incident, I was standing in waist deep water and a bunch of people were splashing around me. Someone else noticed the shark first and started yelling and pointing in my direction. I looked down and realized that I was being circled by a tan shark that I estimated to be about 3 feet long. Its dorsal fin was submerged and the water was a bit choppy that day, so I am guessing that's why I didn't see it at first. The shark came close enough to brush up against my legs a few times. I stood still, watched it circling me and then reached down and touched its back. After I did that, it must have decided that I wasn't worth the trouble and swam away. Once it swam off, I got out of the water and called it a day. The incident didn't scare me enough to keep me out of the water for long though. I've been back to the beach many times since then.
Killeen Gonzalez enjoys water sports with her family and has a history of interviewing pro surfers.
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