Sharks bite 3 people in 24 hours at the same Florida beach

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(CNN) — Experts describe New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County, Florida, as the shark attack capital of the world, and it lived up to that reputation this weekend, when three people were bitten by sharks over two days.

On Saturday, 20-year-old surfer Emily Comfort was bitten on her left hand and wrist, according to Volusia County Beach Safety. She was taken to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Half an hour later, officials said, 21-year-old surfer Riley Petrovich had to be treated for a shark bite to his right foot; he refused transport to the hospital.

A lot of bait fish gather in the area beyond the pier at New Smyrna Beach, and sharks follow them, according to Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Naylor says that the best surfing breaks are also found at this part of the beach.

“If you like to surf and you surf in this particular spot, the chances are high that you have been within 10 feet of a shark,” Naylor wrote in an email. “The surfers all know this. They routinely report seeing sharks in the area. While it may be news to the non-surfing community, it is widely known to scientists and surfers.”

Less than 24 hours after the first two bites, 51-year-old Peter Bourbeau was standing in knee-deep water when his right foot was bitten by what he described as a 4-foot-shark, Volusia County Beach Safety said. He told officials that he kicked the shark with his left foot, and it swam away.

The sharks in these attacks have not been identified, but Naylor said blacktips, spinners and juvenile sandbar sharks are frequently found in the area, and on occasion, hammerhead and tiger sharks can be seen.

To the surprise of many, he said, fairly large sharks will venture into shallow water.

According to the International Shark Attack File, Volusia County has recorded 303 shark attacks — the most in the United States — since 1882. The second closest is Brevard County, Florida, with 147.

Of the 1,441 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks in the United States since 1837, Florida dominates the list, with 828 recorded attacks. The second closest state is Hawaii at 162.

So, as you head to the beach, here are some tips to keep you from becoming shark snack.

Be the bigger man

See a shark and think it’s about to attack? Act “big,” because sharks respect size and strength, says shark expert George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File. And pop it on the nose. “A smack to the nose is startling to a shark,” he says.

Thrash about

Attacks are rare; deaths are rarer. But if you do find yourself in the jaws of a great white — or bull shark, or tiger shark — don’t play dead. “If you play dead, you’re going to be dead,” says Burgess. Because the shark, after taking an exploratory bite of you, will think it’s won the battle and will commence to chomping.

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Deal with a shark like you would a neighborhood bully. “So hit him, and maybe he’ll go home to mommy,” Burgess says. If you got something handy, like your selfie stick or scuba gear, smack the shark with it. Or just use bare hands and go for the nose, gills and eyes — all sensitive areas.

Spring for the shore

Successfully fought off Jaws? Hightail it to the beach. That might sound obvious, but it makes sense. All of that splashing and commotion (not to mention the blood) is sure to attract other sharks that might be swimming by, says Burgess. Once on solid ground, stop the bleeding and get help.

Whew, surely you don’t ever want a repeat of that experience. So what should you differently next time?

Stay out of Florida

OK, we’re kidding (but only a little). The Sunshine State usually leads the world in unprovoked shark attacks. Makes sense if you think about it: lengthy coastline + throngs of tourists = shark buffet.

Don’t swim at night

Contrary to the joys Michael Stipe sings about, avoid night swimming, because you can’t see the sharks coming. Also avoid mouths of rivers, inlets, channels and any place where fish congregate. “Where there’s fish, there’s predators,” Burgess says.

Ditch the bling

Light reflecting off jewelry is a surefire shark draw. They think it’s fish scales. So, leave those gold chains on the shore.

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