Shark Attacks Down in Florida, Nation

Florida only reported 19 shark attacks last year

Sharks are becoming less and less fond of human flesh, according to a new study by the University of Florida.

Shark attacks dropped from 41 in 2008 to 28 in 2009, said George Burgess, curator of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida. Worldwide, the number of attacks stayed the about same, with 61 events in 2009 compared with 60 the previous year.

The report comes on the heels of several people being bitten in Florida since the beginning of the new year. Apparently, sharks are getting their teeth back.

A kiteboarder in Stuart died after being bitten in the leg by a large shark and two men in South Florida were bitten while fishing in separate incidents.

Those two attacks, which led to minor injuries, were more of the normal unfortunate run-ins with sharks, officials said.

"Most attacks are not of the 'Jaws' ilk, but more the equivalent of a dog bite," Burgess said.

Florida led the way in attacks -- although the number of shark bites in the Sunshine State is down sharply, falling from 32 in both 2007 and 2008 to 19 in 2009.

But when swimming at the beach, the rules of engagement still apply, researchers said.

Stay out of the water between dusk and dawn, when hungry sharks are most active. Try not to swim alone and if you do, make sure you're not wearing a seal suit or anything that would make you look like you want to be on the shark menu. And it's extremely important that you don't wear blood-scented sun tan lotion.

With 2010 not getting off to the best start, we think we will stay on the beach.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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