Should we worry about sharks during beach vacation?

Employees at the aquarium in Scottsdale weigh in on the truth behind shark attacks in the U.S.

PHOENIX --  Thanks to Hollywood, many people fear sharks when taking a trip to the ocean.

News headlines showing shark attacks are enough to make you avoid the ocean altogether.

Beaches are currently closed in Santa Cruz after a rare shark attack on Tuesday.

On July 9, a woman was bitten by a shark at Haulover Beach in Miami.

According to the International Shark Attack File, Florida beaches top the list in the U.S. for most shark attacks. Palm Beach County has seen 67 attacks in recorded history.  Brevard County has seen 122 attacks. Topping the list, Volusia County with 238 attacks.

If your trip takes you to California, shark attacks are extremely rare. Out of the 1,100 miles of coastline, the Golden State has seen 114 confirmed shark attacks from 1926 - 2014 according to an 88-year study by Stanford University.

Here in Arizona, we don't have to worry about sharks, but you can learn more about them at Odysea Aquarium in Scottsdale.

"Sharks should be revered, not feared. They are beautiful creatures and living dinosaurs. If you sit through our living sea carousel, you'll learn that more people die from coconuts, about 150 a year versus about 10 per year from sharks," said Greg Charbeneau, general manager at Odysea Aquarium.

What do you do if you find yourself in the water next to a shark?

“Try to avoid a lot of significant splashing and moving around. Those movements will give off the resemblance of a sick or dying fish," said Charbeneau.

What should you do if a shark starts attacking you?

“Most importantly, don't play dead. Secondly, you can go after their sensitive areas which are the gills, eyes and tip of their head, then get out of the water immediately," said Charbeneau. 

Overall, being knowledgeable about your surroundings is key.

“Avoid cloudy murky water, avoid swimming the early morning and late evenings and if you see schools of fish or stingrays jumping out of the water and acting erratic, get out of the water and evaluate the situation before getting back in," said Charbeneau.

During the month of July, Odysea Aquarium is hosting a "Summer of Sharks" series. 

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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