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America's Most Shark-Infested Beaches

America's Most Shark-Infested Beaches
Surf Beach, north of 

Santa Barbara, California
Courtesy of Forbes Images

By the time a lifeguard got to him, it was too late. Stephen Schafer was kitesurfing 500 yards off an unguarded part of Stuart Beach, in Martin County, Fla., last February when he was attacked by a swarm of sharks. “He got bit after he presumably wiped out, a very serious bite,” says George Burgess, director of theInternational Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Schafer was rushed to a local hospital, where he died of his wounds.


While shark attacks are rare, they’ve been on the rise, with 79 attacks in 2010—the most dangerous year for shark attacks in a decade. Here is our list of some notable locations for shark attacks in 2010 and 2011. Although no one beach is more likely to be prone to shark attacks than another, these are mostly part of larger areas known to be where sharks and humans come into contact with each other.


Surf Beach, north of Santa Barbara, California


Shark attacks are relatively common in the waters off northern California, but one attack in central California in 2010 drew a lot of attention. Nineteen-year-old surfer Luke Ransom was catching large waves in the waters off Vandenberg Air Force base near Santa Barbara, when he was attacked by an 18-foot great white. The surfer did not get back to shore in time and bled to death.



New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Courtesy of Forbes Images

New Smyrna Beach, Florida


There were 13 unprovoked shark attacks – one fatal – in Florida in 2010, statistically the most likely place in the world to get bitten by a shark. That likelihood shows no sign of abating this year. In addition to an attack on dive instructor Daniel Webb on June 12, the most recent attack was on a 19-year-old swimmer in New Smyrna Beach on June 6, the third person this year to get bitten by a shark in part of the so-called “red triangle.”


Topsail Island, North 

Carolina
Courtesy of Forbes Images

Topsail Island, North Carolina


North Carolina has had a moderate amount of shark attacks in the past decade, including five last year, up from one the year before. One of those victims was Carley Schlentz, a 13-year-old girl from Greensboro, N.C., who was attacked near Topsail Island. She was bitten twice before she made it out of the water, and required 60 stitches to close the wounds.


Fripp Island, South 

Carolina
Courtesy of Forbes Images

Fripp Island, South Carolina


Shark attacks are relatively rare in East Coast waters north of Florida, and in South Carolina particularly, but last year the state was the site of four attacks, all of which were non-fatal. One of those sharks attacked six-year-old Ella Morris, who was playing on a boogie board with her father when a shark bit into Ella’s leg and dragged her underwater. Ella’s father chased the shark away with the board and ran ashore to a nearby firehouse for help. Ella’s wound required 22 stitches but she survived the attack.


Lyman Beach, Kona, Hawaii
Courtesy of Forbes Images

Lyman Beach, Kona, Hawaii


Hawaii is also one of the world’s hotspots for shark encounters. The islands were the location of four unprovoked attacks last year and a few this year as well. Two of those attacks occurred within three days of each other in the waters near Lyman Beach in Kona, the first recorded attacks in that part of the big island. Theresa Fernandez was surfing in the waters off Kona when she felt something hard hit the bottom of her board. When the rear of her surfboard was pulled under the water, she paddled furiously to get away from what she knew was a shark. Luckily, Fernandez and another surfer, Alayna DeBina, both escaped their encounters without injury.


In Pictures: The World’s Most Shark-Infested Beaches



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