4 shark bites in 6 days bolster Volusia County's status as 'shark bite capital of the world'

Four shark bites have been reported in Volusia County over the past week. 

The string of shark incidents started on the Fourth of July in New Smyrna Beach. So far, two men in their 20s and two 14-year-old boys have been bitten by sharks in Volusia County since last Thursday, reinforcing the county's status as "shark bite capital of the world," according to the Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File. 

On July 4, a 21-year-old man visiting from Ohio was playing football in knee-deep water when his foot was bitten by a shark. 

"All of a sudden I felt something stab the top and bottom of my foot," Connor Baker told FOX 35. "My first instinct was I yanked my foot out, and then just kind of took off."

The tourist was rushed to a local hospital for surgery after he learned that four of his tendons had been ruptured. He's now back in Ohio and recovering, and should be able to walk again in six to eight weeks.  

"I feel lucky that I should be able to be back to normal at some point, maybe for a while, but better than never being back to normal," Baker said. 

The next day at New Smyrna Beach, another visitor was bitten by a shark. 

A 26-year-old from Sarasota was bitten on his left foot while wading in an inner tube 5-feet deep. He was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. 

On July 8, a 14-year-old participating in lifeguard training camp in Ponce Inlet was bitten by a shark in his calf. Dempsey Manhart told FOX 35 he thought he had hit another person during the drill, but it was actually a shark. 

"I dove onto it, and I hit the shark," he said. "I hit it with my hands, and then I stood up, and it spun around and was like underneath my legs. And I think it bit me then when it was wrapped around my feet."

Manhart needed 14 stitches after the bite, but is doing OK otherwise. Despite the incident, the teenager said he's not afraid of going back in the water. 

"Because I think that it's something really rare that can happen. And if it's happened once, I doubt it's going to happen again. So I don't think there's really anything to be scared of," he said. 

On July 10, Volusia County Beach Safety said that a 14-year-old tourist from Missouri was bitten by a shark on his left foot while swimming in knee-deep water in Daytona Beach Shores. He was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. 

Volusia County ranked No. 1 for shark attacks worldwide

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File, which was published in February, the most shark attacks to date happened in Florida. To be more specific, the majority of shark attacks in Florida were reported in Volusia County. 

Dating back to 1882, 351 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks have been reported in Volusia County. Brevard County is ranked No. 2, with just over 150 attacks. 

Here's a look at what countries have reported the most unprovoked shark bites, according to the International Shark Attack File:

  1. USA - 36 bites, 2 fatal
  2. Australia - 15 bites, 4 fatal
  3. New Caledonia - 3 bites, 1 fatal
  4. Brazil - 3 bites, 0 fatal
  5. Egypt - 2 bites, 1 fatal

Here's a look at where the most unprovoked in the U.S. have been to date:

  1. Florida - 928
  2. Hawaii - 195
  3. California - 138
  4. South Carolina - 118
  5. North Carolina - 80

Here's a breakdown of unprovoked shark attacks to date in Florida:

  1. Volusia County - 351
  2. Brevard County - 159
  3. Palm Beach County - 83
  4. St. Johns County - 45
  5. Duval County - 46
  6. Martin County - 41
  7. St. Lucie County - 39
  8. Indian River County - 22
  9. Monroe County - 21
  10. Miami-Dade County - 20

Click here to see the full report. 

Shark safety tips

The Florida Museum of Natural History shared the following safety tips for swimmers to reduce the chances of having an interaction with a shark:

  • Stay in groups because sharks are more likely to attack individuals who are alone
  • Avoid straying too far from shore, which isolates you and makes it harder to get help
  • Stay out of the water during dusk or dawn when sharks are most active and have better senses
  • Avoid swimming if bleeding from a wound, and approach cautiously if menstruating, as sharks have a keen sense of smell
  • Avoid wearing shiny jewelry that can resemble fish scales to sharks
  • Stay away from waters with sewage or fishing activity, indicated by diving seabirds or bait fish
  • Porpoises do not indicate the absence of sharks as they share food sources
  • Be cautious in murky water and avoid bright clothing, as sharks detect contrast well
  • Minimize splashing and keep pets out of the water due to their unpredictable movements
  • Exercise caution in areas between sandbars or near steep drop-offs, favored by sharks
  • Avoid entering the water if sharks are spotted, and leave immediately if sharks are seen while swimming. Do not provoke or harass sharks if encountered
  • If attacked by a shark, take proactive measures such as hitting its nose with an object. If bitten, aim for the eyes and gills, and do not act passively as sharks respond to assertiveness

Click here for more information.