[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Experts not surprised by recent shark attacks in Manatee County


Experts not surprised by recent shark attacks in Manatee County

By Robert Hahn, Reporter
Bay News 9

Monday, October 3, 2011

Two recent shark attacks have people talking across the area.

Both incidents happened in Manatee County.

Experts are saying it's bound to happen when people and nature mix.

The two shark bite incidents happened just off Anna Maria Island. The first, a little over a week ago, occurred about 5 miles north of the island. The second happened on Sunday at Bean Point on the northern tip of the island.

The two victims are recovering from their wounds.

A Mote Marine shark expert said having two attacks so close together is really not surprising.

"Believe it or not, it's not that odd," said Director of shark research at Mote Marine Dr. Robert Hueter. "Sometimes these things cluster in time, it usually doesn't mean anything, it's just a sort of a statistical clustering."

Chief Jay Moyles, with Manatee County Marine Rescue, thinks it's just a matter of people and nature coming together.

"People always want to say it's the shark's fault," he said. "I tend to think that's not the case. I think we need to be a little bit more aware of our surroundings in the marine environment."

And Glen Pla, a fishing expert for Bright House Sports Network, echoed that sentiment.

"If you are in the water, near dusk, you're fishing, you have blood in the water, you have wounded fish, then yes, there's a possibility of something coming over to investigate," said Pla. "But a general swimmer? I don't think so."

One of the victims, CJ Wickersham, was asked if he's going to be more cautious in the future.

"I've always known they're there, I mean, I've seen (them) before diving," said Wickersham. "I don't know, probably not, probably still go in and wade fish and everything."

Officials said the odds of getting attacked by a shark are still less than those of being bit by a dog, or even an alligator.

The second shark victim, Javier Lopez, declined to speak on camera with Bay News 9, but did say the shark hit him hard enough to knock him over.

Doctor's used 67 stitches to close his wounds.

Experts say it may be a good idea to avoid sandbars and being near steep dropoffs, as these are favorite hangouts for sharks.

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