ROCKLEDGE, FL (Florida Today) -- Due to growing interest in sharks and shark attacks, the head of Brevard County Ocean Rescue said he wants to start a more comprehensive local database of shark incidents on Space Coast beaches.
"It's a goal, that's probably the best way to say it," said Jeffrey Scabarozi, chief of Brevard County Ocean Rescue, headquartered in Rockledge. "In the past year and half, we have seen an increase in the number of shark attacks."
Scabarozi' s comments come as Brevard County has seen three serious shark bites so far this year; a small number, but one that still has generated attention.
It's important to note, though: shark encounters are extremely rare, and the adage often used is that there is a greater chance of getting struck by lightning or getting into an accident on Interstate 95 than there is of getting attacked by shark.
Lifeguards have to worry more much more about rip currents and swimmers who often get into the ocean and aren't as capable as they think they are.
Shark bites are typically near the bottom of their concerns, because of the rarity.
So for this year, there have been three reported shark attacks on Brevard beaches, which most people see as an anomaly. The attacks occurred on April 22, May 15 and Aug. 2. None were fatal.
The latest involved then 8-year-old Christian Sanhueza of Orlando, who was bitten by a shark while boogie boarding near The Tides Collocated Club at Patrick Air Force Base. Sanhueza suffered a severed Achilles' tendon and was released from Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne on Wednesday, the day after turning 9.
He faces future surgery at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
One of the problems with collecting shark bite incidents is that there isn't a consistent, quantifiable way to gather the data.
Brevard Ocean Rescue will record them if they happen along one of the sections of beaches where it has patrols but some minor incidents could occur where there are no lifeguards, or when victims don't seek medical treatment.
Scabarozi works with Lindsay French at the University of Florida's Museum of Natural History, which puts together a yearly International Shark Attack File, in verifying data on shark attacks locally but often that's a matter of taking a media report and investigating whether or not it is an actual bite.
When questions come to Scabarozi about tallying shark bites in Brevard, he often has to refer them to the International Shark Attack File.
He's not alone.
Hospitals turn in reports on their surgical procedures and treatment to the Florida Department of Health, but that doesn't translate to a clearinghouse of shark bite data.
"The Florida Department of Health does not track shark bite hospitalization data," said Sheri Hutchinson, a department spokeswoman.
Hutchinson suggested calling French at UF for shark bite data.
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