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Florida Beaches With The Most Shark Attacks: A Comprehensive Guide

Florida, known for its beautiful beaches and sunshine. The Florida beaches with the most shark attacks are also what the Sunshine State is known for.

Of course at any time, you need to be aware of your surroundings when going in the water at any beach. And not just because of sharks.

Sharks live in the oceans. That’s a fact.

We are the ones entering their homes when we swim, surf, paddleboard and more in the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean as well as the Gulf of Mexico and other oceans throughout the world.

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Below we will cover the Florida beaches with the most shark attacks but first let’s talk about why this is increasing.

You can use this table of contents to jump to any section of this article. I have also placed links to other informative articles below.

Shark Bite Statistics

The University of Florida and Florida Museum of Natural History have the International Shark Attack File that monitors shark attacks not only in Florida but worldwide.

In 2022, the number of shark bites tied for a 10-year low but have increased in certain areas. 

The worldwide total according to global charts for shark bites was 57. Of that number, 41 occurred in the USA with 1 being fatal.

Others required medical treatment and the single incidents were in shallow waters where people were wading or swimming. 

The International Shark Attack file emphasizes that unprovoked shark bites decreased last year. Unprovoked bites are those in areas where there is no fishing or chum in the waters.

They also report in general the number of sharks in the water have decreased which contributes to the downturn. Florida did lead again last year in unprovoked bites.

First thing that comes to mind is a great white shark. However, of the 2 shark bites that were fatal, it is believed those were from bull sharks.

There was a report of a woman bitten by a lemon shark in the Dry Tortugas while snorkeling.

Lemon sharks in general do not bite and this was only the 11th bite report in history from this species. The Dry Tortugas are off the coast of Key West in the Florida Keys.

There are several species of sharks in Florida. They include the tiger sharks, dusky shark, nurse shark, great hammerhead shark, lemon shark, silky shark, reef shark, bull shark, and the sandbar shark.

A few other shark species sometimes make an appearance off the coast of Florida’s beaches but are quite rare.

Does the weather increase the chances of shark attacks

Many wonder if the weather can affect or cause an increase in Florida shark attacks.

The Atmospheric Administration advises that sharks do feel the different in the atmosphere when a storm or hurricane is offshore. But it only affects certain shark species not all. 

The hurricane frequency and extreme weathers in recent years have biologists studying this effect on sharks as well as other marine life. In general, the sharks will move farther out to sea when the storms are near the coastline. 

This occurs in the Sunshine State as well as up the eastern coastline through South Carolina and North Carolina which also have more shark incidences than the rest of the coastline.

This shark behavior also happens outside the USA in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. 

Factors Contributing To Shark Attacks

There are several factors that contribute to the increased number of shark unprovoked attacks on Florida beaches.

The three main reasons are: human activity, shark population, and environmental factors.

Human Activity

One of the main contributors to shark attacks is the increasing amount of human activity in the ocean. This refers to swimming, snorkeling, surfing to name a few.

As more people visit Florida beaches, the likelihood of encountering a shark increases as well as shark bite incidents.

The majority of shark attacks occur in shallow waters near the shore, where both humans and sharks tend to congregate and the most unprovoked shark attacks occur. 

Shark Population

Another factor contributing to shark attacks is the increasing population of certain shark species in Florida waters.

Some species, like the Bull shark and the Blacktip shark, are known for their aggressive behavior and have been involved in many incidents.

  • Bull sharks are particularly dangerous as they can tolerate both fresh and saltwater, venturing into rivers and estuaries, increasing the risk of encounters with humans.  
  • Blacktip sharks often hunt in shallow waters near the shore and have been responsible for many attacks on bathers.
  • Great white sharks may be the scariest, but it is not the most common for attacks according to shark research. 

Are Florida’s beaches, America’s most dangerous beaches for shark bites or even a fatal shark attack? 

Florida is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. That is what makes it a top destination for beach lovers.

Some of these beautiful locations may have higher risk of encountering sharks. Most of the Sunshine State’s beaches are enjoyable and safe, there are a few that have recorded a higher number of shark attacks.

I have listed those below starting with the Atlantic Coastline.

Top East Coast Florida Beaches With Highest Shark Attacks

The following beaches have been identified as some of the most prone to shark attacks in the State of Florida:

New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach, located in Volusia County, is in the top spot with the highest number of shark attacks in Florida. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “Shark Attack Capital of the World.”

Online travel publication, Travel Lens, ranks beaches by danger score. It lists NSB as the deadliest beach. 

Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach and Cocoa Beach

Daytona Beach is in second place as far as attacks. Ormond Beach which lies directly north of Daytona and also situated in Volusia County, is another popular spot for both tourists and sharks. 

With its vibrant beach life and numerous water activities, it’s not surprising that it ranks among the top Florida beaches for shark incidents.  

As far as danger score, the online publication Travel Lens has these three beaches plus New Smyrna Beach as the highest in Florida.

But please keep in mind, some of these bites are surf fatalities or bites and do not occur near shore. 

Palm Beach Shores

Palm Beach Shores and West Palm Beach may be picturesque beaches on Florida’s east coast in Palm Beach counties, and known for crystal-clear waters and yacht-filled marinas.

However, their proximity to the Gulf Stream makes this area an ideal location for various shark species, such as blacktip, spinner, and bull sharks. 

Despite its reputation for shark sightings, the risk of an incident remains relatively low, and visitors should simply adhere to posted warnings and guidelines.

Be aware at all times of rip currents, warning flags on the beach and large waves while in the water in Florida or on any beach.

Gulf of Mexico Florida Beach Statistics

Do all shark attacks occur on the East, Atlantic Coast side of Florida? The majority yes but the Gulf of Mexico also has had shark bites. 

Keaton Beach

Last year, Keaton Beach, a small coastal town north of Steinhatchee, had a shark attack a girl while she was scalloping with her family.

Her brother, also a firefighter/EMT, heard her scream for help and was able to get the shark off her. This attack happened in 5 feet of water.

In general though, sharks have more room in the Gulf of Mexico to “spread” out as Florida researchers report. This results in less human/shark interaction. 

​Shark bites on the Gulf Coast are generally in the Tampa Bay area south. There are fewer attacks on the Florida Panhandle and in beach towns like Panama City Beach. 

How Environmental Factors Affect Shark Attacks

Facts are the waters are warming and environmental factors that can influence shark attacks on Florida beaches. These factors are:

Water temperatureSharks tend to be more active in warmer waters, which are prevalent along the Florida coast especially during the summer months and in the east central to South Florida cities like New Smyrna Beach, West Palm Beach and Miami Beach.
Murky waterSharks rely on their sense of sight to hunt for food, and in murky water, they may mistake a swimmer for their natural prey. It is not normal behavior for a shark to attack a human. We are not their choice food. You have a 3000% better chance of drowning than you do being attacked or bitten by a shark.
Presence of preySharks are more likely to be found in areas where there is an abundance of their natural food sources, such as schools of fish or seals.

Understanding the factors that contribute to shark attacks can help beach goers make better decisions as far as when to swim and the risk of incidents.

Shark Attack Prevention Tips

While shark attacks are relatively rare, a little bit of common sense goes a long way towards enjoying a fun, shark free day on Florida’s beautiful beaches.  

The following tips can help beach goers reduce the risk of shark encounters:

  • Swim in groups, as sharks are more likely to attack individuals.  
  • Avoid wearing shiny jewelry, which can resemble fish scales and attract sharks.  
  • Stay close to shore and avoid deep drop-offs, as sharks tend to patrol these areas.  
  • Refrain from going in the water at dawn, dusk, or nighttime. Those are the times when sharks are most active.

In addition, stay informed about local shark activity and avoid swimming during shark migrations or when their food sources are abundant.

Pay attention to warning signs and flags posted by lifeguards. The flag colors mean:

Flag ColorMeaning
GreenLow hazard; calm conditions
YellowModerate hazard; caution is advised
RedHigh hazard; strong currents or presence of sharks
Double RedWater closed due to dangerous conditions

In the event of a shark sighting, remain calm and exit the water as quickly and smoothly as possible. Drawing attention to oneself by splashing or making noise can increase the likelihood of an attack. 

That is it. By following these few tips, you can not only enjoy Florida’s coastline but any beach throughout the world.

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About Denise

Denise Sanger lives a life split between her love for fitness and her passion for travel particularly to the BEACH.  Denise also has a love of marketing and lives in beautiful Suwannee County, Florida. You can find out more about Denise here: About Denise

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