Three people attacked by sharks in Florida and Texas

By Liya Cui

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sharks attacked three people on beaches in Texas and Florida on Thursday as the Independence Day weekend got underway, according to officials, adding to a growing list of such incidents in the U.S. this summer.

A 21-year-old Ohio man was bitten on his foot while standing in knee-deep water at Florida’s New Smyrna Beach, said Tamra Malphurs, interim director of Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue. He was treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

On the same day at South Padre Island on the Gulf Coast of Texas, four people encountered a shark and two were bitten, according to a press release by Texas Parks and Wildlife. The two victims were taken to a hospital, but their conditions were unknown.

There have been 28 reported shark attacks in the U.S. so far this year, according to website Tracking Sharks. At least three others, in addition to Thursday’s attacks, have occurred since June 2, including a California man who was injured by a great white shark and a man in Hawaii who was killed by a shark.

Three women were injured by what authorities believed to be a bull shark in Walton County, Florida, the state where shark attacks are most frequent, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File.

The museum found that unprovoked shark attacks and fatalities around the world rose slightly in 2023, when there were a total of 69 attacks, 10 of which were fatal.

The U.S. had the most incidents last year with 36 attacks and two fatalities. The number of shark attacks have trended downward since they spiked in 2021 with 47 attacks, the most ever recorded by the museum.

Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark research program, said that while the numbers may oscillate year by year, reported shark bites have dropped slightly decade by decade. He attributes the trend to commercial fisheries reducing global shark populations.

“But the number of people on beaches keeps going up. And as a few more shark populations are starting to recover, I think in the next 10 years we may see an increase in incidents,” said Naylor.

(Reporting by Liya Cui; Editing by David Gregorio)

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