Shark bites woman on paddle board in New Smyrna Beach marking first bite of year

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Frank Fernandez
The Daytona Beach News-Journal

A 64-year-old woman was sitting on a paddle board in New Smyrna Beach on Friday when she became the first person bitten by a shark this year in Volusia County, according to officials.

The woman, who lives in New Smyrna Beach, was sitting on the board shortly after 9 a.m. in water 8 to 10 feet deep a little south of the jetty when she was bitten on the foot, said Capt. Tammy Malphurs, spokesperson for Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue.

While the woman did not see what bit her, it was presumed to be a shark, Malphurs said in an email.

The woman suffered lacerations to her foot and was taken to a hospital for precautionary reasons.

The first shark bite of 2021 comes a little more than a month later than the first bites last year, which happened on March 22. Two people were bitten on that day two hours apart.

A total of 10 people were bitten by sharks in 2020 in Volusia County.

Like the shark bite on Friday, none of the shark bites in 2020 were life-threatening. Most occurred during the months of August and September.

New Smyrna Beach is consistently the world leader in shark bites, most of which are minor. The bites result when sharks feeding near Ponce Inlet mistake surfers or swimmers for baitfish.

While sharks are scary to some people, the bigger threat is rip currents, said Malphurs, who stressed people should swim in front of lifeguard towers. Besides rescuing people caught in rips, lifeguards can call people out of the ocean if they see large groups of baitfish or birds diving into the water because that usually signals that sharks are near.

“On average we have about eight to 10 shark bites a year and they are all non-life-threatening,” Malphurs wrote. “But we rescue about 3,000 to 4,000 people from rip currents each year with an average of about five to six drownings, usually in unguarded areas!”

She wrote that conditions were moderate for rip currents on Friday but they may worsen into the weekend.

Source: https://www.news-journalonline.com/

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