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Shark attacks always dominate headlines in Florida, and there are plenty of them. Here are some terrifying shark attack stories.

‘Jaws’ in real life: The shark attack stories to make you fear Florida

According to the Florida Museum, there’s a one in 3.7 million chance that you will die by shark attack. You are more likely to die by fireworks (1 in 340,000), train crash (1 in 156,000), or lightning (1 in 80,000). Still, the chances don’t make shark attacks any less scary, and Florida has seen its fair share of them. 

According to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File, there have been 860 shark attacks in Florida since the file’s creation in 1982. However, between 1992 & 2000, more people have died by drowning than shark attacks. Shark attacks always dominate headlines in Florida, and there are plenty of them. 

Pregnant wife saves husband

In the Florida Keys on Sept. 23, Andrew Eddy had just jumped into the water off his boat when a shark bit his shoulder. His pregnant wife, Margot Dukes-Eddy, quickly jumped into action and pulled him to safety. Other snorkelers were in the area at the time of the attack and reported seeing a bull shark measuring eight to ten feet long. 

First of all, what a badass. Despite seeing blood in the water and the shark’s dorsal fin, Dukes-Eddy still jumped in to save her husband while pregnant. While common for Florida, Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, averages 1.6 shark attacks a year since 1982. Volusia Country seems more like Amity Island with its 8.2 shark attacks per year. 

According to the ocean protection advocacy group, Oceana, “When a bull shark does bite a person, it only takes one exploratory bite and quickly realizes that the person is not its preferred prey. Unfortunately, due to their size, even an exploratory bite can be fatal or extremely traumatic.” This is why shark attacks happen so fast. Upon realizing they bit a human, they spit us out, usually.

Nurse shark won’t let go

Jeremy Porter was bet $100 to either grab or touch a shark. Porter did what any Florida man would do and completed the bet. That is until the nurse shark grabbed back and wouldn’t let go. The incident happened in Jensen Beach, Florida, about an hour’s drive from Palm Beach.

Porter was extremely calm throughout the incident. He even joked about it in videos of the experience, stating, “I just wanted to play volleyball today, OK?” He also claimed the bite didn’t hurt, but every time he tried to remove the shark, it would clamp down harder. Emergency crews eventually removed the shark, and it was released back into the water twenty minutes later.   


Two shark attacks in 1 week

According to CNN, a woman was bitten on the foot while surfing in chest-deep water in Valusia county. The twenty-two-year-old surfer didn’t sustain life-threatening injuries during the attack and was not transported to a hospital by ambulance. The attack happened a week after an eleven-year-old was attacked in the area and was the fourth attack this year.  

Shark attacks have been down in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic keeping people from beaches. Between the beginning of the year through June 18, there have been 18 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide. During the same period last year, there were 24. As Florida and other coastal states start reopening beaches, expect the number to climb. 

World record highs

According to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File, 2015 saw record highs in shark attacks worldwide, but no one could top Florida’s thirty shark attacks. One of those thirty attacks was a ten-year-old boy in Cocoa Beach in Brevard County, Florida. It’s suspected a juvenile bull shark took a bite out of the boy’s calf in waist-deep water while playing with his mother. 

Brevard County averages about four shark attacks per year, and this boy was the eleventh attack in the area at the time. Brevard County, Florida, Ocean Rescue Assistant Chief Eisen Witcher Explained to CNN, “It was definitely one of the worst ones that we’ve seen in our area that we’ve responded to, mainly because of the size of the bite.”

Witcher added the boy was airlifted to a local hospital due to the severity of the bite. A spokesperson for Brevard county noted the beach was closed for an hour after the incident. 


While native to Florida, bull shark attacks are incredibly rare. We recommend visiting Oceana’s website to learn more about sharks, other marine life, and what you can do to help to protect the world’s oceans.

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