NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (CBS Tampa) — Contrary to popular belief, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller “Jaws” is more than a mere work of fiction.
To this day, several different species of sharks swim in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and almost 15 deaths throughout the nation have been attributed to unprovoked shark attacks since 2000.
Vacationers at beaches all along the East Coast have survived shark attacks that have rendered them seriously injured, even maimed.
Reports of attacks in the state have come from New Smyrna Beach, Stuart Beach, resorts in the Florida Panhandle and Boca Ciega Bay.
This past March, CBS Miami reported that local mother Valeh Levy had to rescue her own 15-year-old daughter from a shark attack while the two surfed at New Smyrna Beach.
“I said, ‘There is no way this thing is going to kill my daughter,’” Levy told CBS Miami. “I grabbed her shoulders and I pulled her up and threw her on the nose of my board.”
The report noted that, when Levy and her daughter arrived to shore, emergency medical service workers were assisting another patient who had been attacked by a shark.
Beaches in North and South Carolina have also reportedly experienced incidents and sightings over the past few years.
According to research conducted at the Florida Museum of Natural History, 125 incidents between sharks and humans were reported, 75 of which were unprovoked attacks, or attacks in which the shark initiated contact.
Additional data shows that, every year, incidents in the United States make up a significant portion of the total number of attacks that occur worldwide. And of those that happen in America, Florida is reportedly one of the states that see the most shark activity.
The data reflects information processed in February 2012.
Volusia County, in which New Smyrna Beach is located, allegedly holds the dubious honor of housing some of the state’s most shark-infested waters when compared to other counties throughout the state.
“Florida has a high number of shark-human interactions as a result of extremely high aquatic recreational utilization of its waters by residents and tourists, especially surfers,” the article on the museum’s website states. “Most of these interactions result in minor bites or abrasions from small sharks.”
The museum offered several recommendations to avoid shark attacks, including swimming in groups, staying close to shore, and avoiding swimming if you are bleeding in any way.
“If attacked by a shark, the general rule is ‘do whatever it takes to get away!'” the site adds. “Some people have successfully chosen to be aggressive, others passive. Some yelled underwater, others blew bubbles. I personally would go down fighting. “