Shark Attacks Cause Concern

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

An expert says two Florida Panhandle beaches where sharks separately attacked two teenagers this week haven't ever recorded any shark attacks.

On Saturday, 14-year-old Jamie Marie Daigle of Gonzales, La., died when a shark mutilated her leg at a beach near Destin. Monday, 16-year-old Craig Adam Hutto of Lebanon, Tenn., was attacked while fishing in waist-deep water off Cape San Blas, 80 miles to the east. His right leg had to be amputated.

Alabama coastal officials say sharks are not showing up in state waters in the numbers seen last summer, despite the two recent attacks in the Florida Panhandle.

Scientists said they know of no correlation between the number of sharks in an area and the likelihood of a life-threatening encounter with one.

But state conservation scientists make occasional, informal surveys from spotter aircraft flying along the Baldwin County and Dauphin Island coast.

Steve Heath, chief marine biologist, said observers have been seeing five or six sharks each time during this year's flights.

Heath said six sharks is about the average number seen off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico in recent years. Heath said dawn and dusk are the most frequent times of shark attacks.

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