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Expert: Shark encounters to decline after busy holiday weekend

Reported by: Jamie Smith
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Updated: 9/03/2013 8:18 pm
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The number of shark attacks like the ones we saw locally in St. Augustine and Ormond Beach on Labor Day weekend will continue to rise.

That's the prediction from a man who would know.
George Burgess is the curator of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida.

"We can safely assume that our current decade will have more than our last," said Burgess.

More swimmers is his reasoning.

Action News visited his Gainesville lab where his staff is researching shark bite statistics from all over the world.

Along Florida's more than 1,300 miles of coastline, no place in the world sees more shark attacks than the Sunshine State simply due to weather and expanding population.

"We've got lots of people in the water all year round. So it's not surprising we should have an abundance of interactions in a place where sharks are naturally abundant," said Burgess.

Burgess correctly predicted the local shark attacks this past weekend.

"I said you can count on one or two attacks for sure because it's Labor Day weekend," Burgess told Action News.

He says this past weekend wasn't shark season. It was human season and the calculation was simple and inevitable.

More people in the water during the holiday weekend would equate to a higher probability of people interacting with sharks who are out there regardless.

"The shark-human interaction is being dictated by the number of humans in the water more so than the number of sharks."

That explains why the number of shark attacks per decade keeps increasing despite the shark population declining.

Burgess gave Action News another prediction for shark bites in Florida: Fewer people swimming after the holiday weekend means the number of sharks attacking humans will predictably go down.
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