In just one month of 2023, there were 9 deaths related to shark attacks, However, some experts will say that sharks aren’t always interested in humans. The thing is, their behavior is hard to determine and they pose an additional threat to seniors and those that may not be strong swimmers.
Of course, being a strong swimmer does not keep you from being attacked in the water but it can be an advantage if you notice you’re in danger before danger occurs. Aside from there being more shark activity in Florida waters right now, there are also other safety risks that seniors are exposed to from heat-related risks to risks right on the beach.
Let’s talk about the different things being noticed in Florida waters and how you can limit your risk as a senior as you enjoy the rest of summer.
The Shark Attacks: How Common or Uncommon Are They?
Shark attacks are relatively uncommon and not a result of sharks hunting humans as prey. Instead, these incidents usually occur when sharks investigate human activity in the water out of curiosity, leading to accidental attacks.
In 2022, there were 57 recorded shark attacks globally, resulting in five fatalities, with one of them occurring in the United States. While the U.S. leads in shark attacks, the numbers are not in the triple digits.
Florida, specifically New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County, is considered the shark bite capital of the world, with the highest number of recorded shark bites dating back to 1882, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.
Despite the fears surrounding shark attacks, the likelihood of being bitten and killed by a shark is extremely low. In 2022, there were five fatal shark bites, giving individuals a 1 in 4.3 million chance of dying from a shark bite. However, it’s still important to note that just 2 days ago, two surfers were bitten by sharks at this beach. So, what you want to keep in mind is that anything can happen regardless of estimations or statistics.
Considering the Other Risks as a Senior in Florida
To put it into perspective, other common activities pose a higher fatality rate than shark bites, such as drowning with 3,306 annual deaths (1 in 1,134 chance), sun/heat exposure with 273 annual deaths (1 in 13,729 chance), and even lightning strikes with 47 deaths yearly.
So, while the fear of shark attacks exists, there are greater risks in other everyday situations. One of the most dangerous and common among the senior population are the dangers of heat exposure, dehydration, and other sun-related injuries.
Be Intentional About Ways to Protect Yourself as a Senior
As we venture further into the hot summer months, it becomes crucial for seniors to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from heat-related injuries. You can also include needing to protect yourself against shark bites, drowning, and anything else that could pose a threat to your safety when outdoors.
Staying hydrated and seeking shade during peak hours can help seniors beat the heat and avoid heat stroke or exhaustion. When enjoying beach outings, it’s also essential for seniors to be aware of their surroundings and avoid swimming in deep waters where there is a lot of shark activity. With this, you also want to keep your personal health and mobility in mind because doing so could keep you safe from both shark-related injuries and instances of drowning.
Staying close to shore and swimming in groups can reduce the risk of shark encounters but do not use this as a reason to swim in dangerous areas. Overall, seniors should prioritize water safety by swimming in designated areas with lifeguards present and avoiding risky activities in the water in general. By being vigilant and taking these preventive measures, seniors can enjoy their summer while minimizing potential hazards that are present every day.
Another Point of View
As shark attacks and sightings increase, the Florida Aquarium’s resident shark expert, Eric Hovland, encourages people to embrace the experience and enjoy the view. The rise in sightings is attributed to advancements in technology, such as drone technology capturing footage like the recent rare great hammerhead activity.
This surge in shark presence is actually a positive sign he says, as conservation efforts have helped their populations rebound. These creatures play a vital role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s emphasized that there’s no need to fear sharks, as they are generally uninterested in humans. Instead, he suggests more caution be taken about sun exposure and driving to and from the beach, which pose greater risks than actual shark attacks occurring.
So, if you spot sharks while in the water, in general, there might not be a reason to be afraid, however, shark behavior is not always predictable so it’s best to avoid these situations if you can.