Slew of shark encounters, including attack on teen girl, raise concerns ahead of holiday weekend

Friday, June 30, 2023
Shark attack, encounters raise concerns ahead of holiday weekend
A Cocoa Beach shark attack and a slew of shark encounters are raising concerns ahead of 4th of July holiday weekend.

As millions coast to coast head to the beach this holiday, a slew of recent shark encounters have been raising concerns.

In Florida, there have been at least three incidents in just the past week.

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Malea Tribble was paddle boarding from the Bahamas to Palm Beach to raise money for charity when she got more than her money's worth. A hammerhead shark stalked her from below.

"I felt a bump on my board, but I didn't really think about it too much. It happened a couple times. And then, my husband happened to notice the fin," Malea said.

Somehow, Malea managed to stay calm.

"As soon as I knew it was a shark I knew that I needed to keep my composure, so I just I kept going to the side of the boat get to the boat as fast as you can. Don't look around because I just didn't want to lose my balance," Malea said.

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Malea is unscathed, but Magnolia Woodhead was not so lucky. The 12-year-old from Philadelphia was swimming in Cocoa Beach when a shark latched onto her leg. She said it bit her three times, leading to 50 stitches.

"It was just like so fast and aggressive. It bit me three times in a row. And then, I just like, my first instinct was to push it off because it hurts so bad. I was just like, 'Get away from me,'" Magnolia said.

In 2022, the U.S. had 41 unprovoked shark bites. Florida had 16 cases alone.

"So, Florida really leads the world in the number of shark bites on people," said FAU professor Stephen M. Kajiura.

Now, as the holiday weekend begins, crews at beaches all across the country are on alert.

In Cape Cod, the Atlantic white shark conservancy recently detecting multiple great whites just off the shores.

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And in New York, where there were eight attacks last year, there are 18 drones on patrol, trying to keep shark encounters at bay.

Experts say enjoy the beach, but take some precautions.

"Swim near a lifeguard tower. So if anything does happen, you've got immediate access to first aid. If someone is fishing on the beach, don't maybe don't swim there," Kajiura said.

New York's governor's office said there have been no shark sightings on Long Island since they began monitoring over Memorial Day, and they'll have even more people and equipment on patrol this weekend.