There’s one thing that a lot of surfers look out for when riding waves and looking for a good surfing spot: sharks. A lot of the time, sharks come across as quite docile towards humans and will steer clear. It’s likely that they’re as scared of you as you are of them. However, when they feel threatened or mistake a human for a food source, they have been known to attack.
Miami is one of the most popular surfing spots in America, so we’ve researched if there are sharks present and what to do if you find one.
Typical Shark Behavior
When sharks see a human splashing about in the water, it can cause them to become confused or curious. Because of this, they tend to come and investigate what’s going on. It’s easy to forget that a lot of sharks may not have seen a human before, so that can always sway whether they come to say hello.
A lot of sharks have lived out in the deep sea so that they won’t have seen many humans in their lifetime. It’s rare that sharks will come close to shore due to the shallow depths being unsuitable for their size.
Lots of horror films like ‘Jaws’, have created a reputation for sharks that they don’t deserve, with many ignoring humans when coming across them. Although shark attacks have been known to happen, they are often rare and seen as out-of-character.
The main reasons that sharks may attack humans are often backed up, rather than senseless violence. When humans are surfing, they frequently look like seals or turtles due to the similar silhouettes that we share when on a bodyboard or surfboard.
Because of this similarity, sharks may get confused and mistake us for their food. Sharks may also attack humans if we’re near their territory, making them feel threatened. It’s unlikely that these graceful giants will go out of their way to attack humans if they’re not a threat.
Are There Sharks in Miami?
The straightforward answer to this question is yes, Miami does have sharks. Because they’re frequently spotted off the coast, we have installed a net barrier about 50 yards out from shore.
This way we can control the odds of the finned creatures making an appearance closer to densely-used areas of beaches and ocean. It’s important to remember that there are sharks in most areas of the ocean, we just haven’t seen them all!
Because Miami is a popular location for surfers, sailing, scuba diving, and other water-based activities, it’s no surprise that we’ve spotted a few of the beings pop up every now and then.
However, as previously mentioned, they’re not always a threat and should be avoided when possible because, after all, we’re the visitors in their space – not the other way around. Of course, many people love to admire and spectate these beautiful creatures from afar, which is a great activity when done safely.
What Types of Sharks are in Miami
Lemon Sharks are one of the most common shark species that we see off the coast of Florida and belong to the Carcharhinidae family. The Lemon Shark can live to around 25 or 30 years old, meaning that they most likely spot a few humans on their travels around the ocean. This species of shark is often seen around Mexico, the east and west coasts of the US, as well as the western coast of Africa.
This type of shark is not believed to be a big threat to humans, preferring a diet of fish. Of course, humans don’t have a diet consisting of humans anyway, but Lemon Sharks prefer smaller fish, as opposed to turtles and seals.
Tiger Sharks are also seen frequently off the coast of Florida and will eat just about anything! There have been famous historical cases where Tiger Sharks have eaten registration plates, tires, and even garbage!
Known by some as the ‘garbage bags of the sea’, Tiger Sharks can grow to over 5 meters long and live to around 12 years of age. This species of shark is second only to the Great White in terms of recorded attacks on humans, however, these cases are still incredibly rare.
Great Hammerhead Sharks are one of the most recognizable species of shark in the entire ocean. Named after their hammer-shaped heads, this shark can grow to a length of around 6 meters, or 20 feet! Although this species of shark is particularly dangerous towards other forms of marine life, cases of Great Hammerheads attacking people are extremely rare.
This huge being can be found in lots of different areas of the planet’s oceans, including Australia, America, South America, Africa, and large areas of Asia.
What Should I Do If I See a Shark?
The most important thing to do is stay calm. This is obviously easier said than done, however, these creatures are most likely curious or just going about their day. Make sure that you don’t flail your arms about or create splashes in the water.
Sharks rely on electrical currents, smell, and vibrations in order to hunt their prey, so you may confuse them or provoke them.
You should only defend yourself if the shark’s eyes look aggressive. Usually, you can see a change in color from black to white when a shark is looking to attack, in which case you’re close enough to notice. In this situation, it’s always best to avoid swimming away. Sharks are incredibly fast, so turning your back isn’t a good idea.
The best thing to do when faced with an aggressive shark is to stand your ground, or water in this case, but you get what we mean! It’s recommended that you quickly jab the shark on the nose, eyes, or gills with an object.
If you’re unfortunate to be close enough to an aggressive shark then it’s best to punch these areas or kick them. The quicker you strike, the less they’ll expect it.
Although sharks have been known to attack humans, these cases are extremely rare. Deaths from these cases are even harder to spot, with only a handful of cases found each year. There are lots of species of shark off the coast of Florida, with many people using this location as an opportunity to admire sharks from afar.
Remember that sharks are graceful creatures that have traversed our oceans for hundreds of millions of years. We’re tourists in their oceans and it’s best to leave them be!