Susan Candiotti: Number of shark bites not unusual
CNN Correspondent Susan Candiotti has been walking the beaches of Volusia County on Florida's east coast and gives us this perspective on shark attacks.
Q. Are shark attacks worse this year?
A. No. According to beach patrol authorities, the number of shark attacks is just about the same as it was last year. As of Monday, there have been 17 -- one more than last year.
Authorities here say that six bites over a weekend is unusually high for a two-day period. No one can say for sure why there seems to be more activity.
Q. Why has the Volusia County area traditionally had the most shark attacks in Florida waters?
A. Shark experts say part of the reason is that there are a lot of bait fish, which is the food sharks eat, off the beaches here. Bait fish tend to congregate near Ponce de Leon inlet near New Smyrna Beach.
Q. If the number of attacks is about the same as last year, why do we seem to be hearing more about them?
A. Authorities here say two high profile shark attacks -- the attack of Jesse Arbogast in the Florida Panhandle and the attack on a New York man in the Bahamas -- have drawn the interest of reporters. So, they say journalists are reporting more than they usually do and people are paying attention to those reports.
Q. Many of the people you have interviewed say they are still going into the water. Even a surfer who was bitten seemed undeterred. Are people being more careful?
A. Yes, they seem to be. Some of the people I've talked with say they are watching the shore with a careful eye more than usual. Even the surfer who was bitten and said he would return to the water said if he saw fins he wouldn't go out again.
But some beachgoers -- who say they have been coming here from years -- say they don't believe there is reason for concern. But even they say they are staying closer than usual to lifeguards and watching the water more.
Q. Has the increased news of shark attacks had an economic impact?
A. That's hard to say. We talked to man who owns a deli. He said every time there is an attack fewer people come to the beach. But he said enough reporters and curiosity seekers have shown up that he hasn't been hurt.
Q. What can authorities do when sharks swarm off the beaches?
A. Volusia County Deputy Joe Wooden said the county doesn't have the money to send up a helicopter every day, but they are going to be sending out Jet Skis to see if there are sharks.
In addition, they are watching from a lifeguard tower here and telling beachgoers if there are sharks sighted. Plus the beach patrol trucks go up and down the beach looking for fins.
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