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Published on April 9th, 2013 | by Tia McDonald

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Spring Breakers Receive A Surprise Guest

As Spring Breakers hit the Florida Coast this week, more than 15,000 sharks will greet them as these sharp-toothed fish migrate north along the Atlantic Ocean.

The majority that have been spotted appear to be spinner sharks and are going back to their home waters after heading south for winter, according to WPTV reports. They aren’t all headed to the same place though.

Michael McCallister, a research biologist at the University of North Florida says that they tend to travel anywhere from North Carolina down to the Florida Keys for winter. Usually, the sharks head north in January and February; however, the inconsistent weather and water temperatures could have thrown off their schedules.  McCallister says most of the sharks people could encounter are off the beach about 200 meters and that the chances of being bit are slim.

“Don’t go swimming at dawn or dust or if the water is murky because it alters the sharks vision of food,” McCallister said. “Also, get out of the water if you see a lot of small fish or bait in the area because that’s what sharks thrive off of.”

If you see a shark, don’t panic and splash around; get out slowly so you don’t attract the animal’s attention. McCallister says they travel for about a month, but spring breakers shouldn’t be concerned. Beaches will not allow swimmers in the water if it becomes dangerous.

“There’s more danger that lies within the ocean, or even getting to the beach than with sharks,” McCallister says. “Be aware of ocean currents, shore breaks and other marine life.”

Florida’s very own New Smyrna Beach is the shark bite capitol of the world, according to the International Shark Attack File run by the University of Florida. Lee Bowman, a junior studying economics at UF, grew up there and says he has seen at least 15 sharks in the water.

“When you grow up in a town like New Smyrna Beach, everyone you know has seen at least one shark, but you can’t let it affect you,” Bowman said. “If I were worried about getting bitten, I would never have the chance to enjoy the beach and its beauty.”

Last year, 25 people were bitten by a shark in the state of Florida, which accounted for more than half of the 47 shark attacks in the U.S. last year. That total number is more than double the 20 people who were bit in 2011.

The populations of sharks are growing and the number of attacks are still expected to increase. Bowman says he doesn’t personally know of anyone who is afraid of sharks and says he will be enjoying his Spring Break free of fear.

Bowman didn’t fear sharks during his Spring Break, and he knows the thousands of people who visit New Smyrna Beach this year for Spring Break don’t either. His advice for the Spring Breakers is to try not to be just another New Smyrna Beach statistic.

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