People who go to Florida for vacation and stay in Disney World may never hear about the dangerous side of Florida life. They’re on vacation and really don’t want to know that Florida may not be as perfect a place as they think. At Disney I’ve never seen a poisonous snake or spider as big as my hand, but I sure saw them around my home.
Also sharks can inhabit the shallow waters along the coastline if fish are plentiful and news of shark bites can happen, especially among the surfers who visit the Ponce Inlet area at the jetty.
We had friends who’s son was bitten by a shark while surfing near the jetty. The sharks don’t mean to bite people, they get confused and surfers look like turtles to them when they are paddling out to catch a wave. At least that is what I’ve heard. Fish tend to be plentiful near piers and the jetty (a rocky outcropping of rocks) area so it’s logical that sharks would go there to look for food.
The types of sharks that can enter the Florida surf zone include the Lemon Shark (shown) which can be 9 feet long and black-tip sharks that average around 8 feet in length. The smaller sharks include the black-tip and Bonnethead sharks which are only around 3.5 feet. (reference: Florida’s Living Beaches, by Blair and Dawn Witherington, pg. 145)
I don’t remember ever being warned by lifeguards not to swim because of sharks, but many times we swam where there were no lifeguards, or before or after the lifeguards were off-duty, so we’d watch for Pelicans in groups on the water feeding which meant the fish were plentiful and therefore sharks could be around.
The sharks are there, but it’s no reason to avoid the beaches. Truthfully, the jellyfish are worse when they invade. And I have been stung. And if you would love to find some pre-historic shark’s teeth, I’ll tell you where to look – here.