Prepare for Shark Week with tips to protect your family on Tampa Bay beaches

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is upon us and many will be tuning in to learn about one of the ocean’s most valuable predators.

In preparation for Shark Week, professional review and comparison website SafeWise compiled a report of unprovoked shark attack numbers across the country.

Florida is home to New Smyrna Beach, which according to National Geographic, is the “shark attack capital of the world.”

Numbers provided by the Shark Research Institute’s Global Shark Attack File, analyzed by, SafeWise back that up.

Over two decades, 486 unprovoked shark attacks were reported in Florida.

According to Mote Marine Laboratory shark scientist Dr. Robert Hueter, not many of these occur in the Tampa Bay area.

“Shark bites in the Tampa Bay region are relatively rare, very spread out in time. I think the last fatal, obviously serious, attack we had of a shark on a person here in the Tampa Bay area I believe was in 2000, so almost 20 years ago,” said Dr. Hueter.

“We just don’t have as many incidents as we do on the east coast of Florida. That’s not to say we don’t have a lot of sharks, because we do…. Incidents here are relatively rare, fortunately for us.”

He also said you are more likely to be stung by a stingray on the beach than bitten by a shark.

In data provided by the Global Shark Attack File, a fatal shark bite was reported in Boca Ciega Bay on Aug. 30, 2000.

Thaddeus Kubinski, 69, was killed by what is thought to be a bull shark.

Two most recent attacks documented in the Global Shark Attack File were both in 2009.

On July 22, 2009, a 19-year-old swimming in the Intracoastal Waterway in St. Petersburg suffered lacerations to her lower right leg.

On May 25, 2009, a man was swimming in the gulf on Clearwater Beach when he was bitten on the right foot by a 5 to 8-foot shark.

According to the International Shark Attack File, administered by the American Elasmobranch Society and the Florida Museum of Natural History, Pinellas County has the highest number of confirmed unprovoked shark attacks in the Tampa Bay area since 1882 with 13.

According to the same file, the species most commonly involved with unprovoked shark attacks in Florida are bull sharks, blacktip sharks and spinner sharks.

Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe:

  • Exit the water if you see schools of tarpon.
  • Do not swim at night when sharks can’t distinguish you from food. Sharks are often more common at night, as well.
  • Do not swim in the middle of where someone is fishing.
  • Do not wear shiny jewelry in the water. Anything shiny reflects the sun and can simulate scales of a fish.
  • Brightly colored bathing suits are also a “no.” Sharks can see them at a distance.

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