Santa Rosa Beach: Over the last few months, there’s been a lot of scuttlebutt, hubbub, whispers, and the like going around the news outlets, Facebook forums, and other areas about sharks in the Gulf of Mexico. We even got into the act ourselves by posting our own article about there being sharks in the gulf…which there are. Since Sharkweek is fast approaching, and because we here at have an unhealthy fascination with sharks, we thought we’d write another. 

Believe it or not, however, the risk is minimal. Just because Jaws 2 was filmed in Destin doesn’t mean that there are maneaters sitting in wait for you to fall off your boat. For the most part, the waters are relatively safe. To prove it, we even did a little research to back that statement up…and we’ll include a fancy map to show you stuff.

Here are a few things that locals know about sharks in the Gulf of Mexico that tourists do not:

    1. There are millions of people who come to the beaches here on the Emerald Coast, and very few shark attacks. While there are shark sightings almost weekly, you can count on one hand how many people have been attacked by a shark over the course of modern history. That number is 3 in the last twenty years. One was fatal, the other two were not.  Your chances of being mauled by a bear or alligator are higher than your chances of being killed by a shark in the waters on the Gulf Coast. (See the Map)

2. Stay away from the second sand bar: Unless you’re on a paddle or surfboard, it is in your best interest to not swim out to the second sand bar. Locals know that sharks congregate out there near the drop off into deeper waters. It is their hunting grounds. As a matter of fact, some locals actually call the second sand bar the salad bar…because it’s where they eat.

3. In all of recorded history, hammerheads…which are a common sight in our waters…has never attacked a human. He may look menacing with that t-bone shaped head, but hammerheads are pretty much harmless.

4. Stay out of the water later in the evening, at night, and early mornings: This is when sharks hunt.  It is also dark and maybe a little easier for them to mistake you for something delicious. Think about it! Can you tell the difference between a kneecap and a fried grouper sammich in the dark? They probably can’t either. 

5. Don’t antagonize a Bull shark: There are all kinds of sharks in the waters on the Gulf Coast. Bull sharks are one of the most common. If you see one, just casually walk or swim away. If it’s not attacking you, then don’t slap at it or hit it. There are stories where kayakers and paddle boarders slapped one with their paddle, and the bull shark attacked their board or kayak. So, leave them be and they will leave you be. (See Pic for Bull Shark

6. Don’t walk into the water with bait strapped to your person: One of the very few fatal shark attacks that have occurred in Gulf waters was as a result of someone fishing with shrimp strapped their side in a bait bag. Just don’t. Think about it! You have bait strapped to you…in the same water that you’re using the bait in. Not smart at all…

7. You’re not that tasty to sharks: According to a multitude of shark experts, sharks are like a lot of us who live or visit the beach, they prefer seafood. Maybe it’s the GMOs or the preservatives in our diet…who knows? Either way, they prefer something a little more fishy. 

Now, don’t you feel safer? As we said earlier, shark attacks are rare on the Gulf Coast, and if you keep the above things in mind, you’ll lower your chances of being mauled even more. Plus, you’re more informed…which is always cool.  Now go impress someone with this new knowledge in hand.