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WATCH: Summer Ushered in by Great White Shark Sighting in New Jersey

By Kristen Rodman, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
June 26, 2014; 3:21 AM ET

Celebrating the official start to summer, thousands flocked to the New Jersey coastline to enjoy a weekend of sand, sun and ocean waves. However, beach-goers were in for a surprise as a Great White shark was spotted off the coastline, following and feeding off a fishermen's boat.

While shark attacks in New Jersey are not typical, they are not unheard of, as the infamous attacks at New Jersey's beaches in July 1916 Inspired the famed Steven Spielberg film, "Jaws."

Watch as a 16-foot-long Great White feasts on a fisherman's bait off the New Jersey coastline.

With the highest yearly total of the century, in 2012, there were 54 shark attacks in the United States, according to statistics from the International Shark Attack File.

Although the Garden State's coastline is not known for frequent attacks, the sheer number of shark attacks have been on the rise in recent years due to increases in human and seal populations, as well as shark migration patterns.

"Each decade shark attacks have increased," said George H. Burgess, Director of the Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File. "This decade will have more attacks than last simply because the human population has grown."

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A shark attack is an interaction between humans and sharks that results in significant injuries and an occasional death. Shark bites, on the other hand, are interactions in which injuries to humans are small, similar to that of a dog bite, Burgess said.

According to the International Shark Attack File, Gruber's statement is on par with researched data proving that a person is more likely to die from a tornado, being struck by lightning or being attacked by a dog than from being attacked by a shark.

Watch as a 16-foot-long Great White feasts on a fisherman's bait off the New Jersey coastline.

However, shark bites are a different story.

The Sunshine State is home to what is known as the "Shark-bite capital of the world," where approximately 25 people are bitten each year, New Smyrna Beach.

This beach is known for its sandbars, created from moving sand brought about by the movement of an inlet connected to the Atlantic from a lagoon. These sandbars create waves ideal for surfing, making the beach a top destination for surfers, vacationers and native Floridians. It also composes the perfect mix for shark and human interaction.

"Inlets are a shark's aquatic smorgasbord; it's like a soup of bait fish, predatory fish and surfers," said Burgess. "As a result, surfers get more shark bites."

Surfers tend to be the main attraction for sharks as far as bites go due to the amount of splashing their hands and feet make while paddling. Sharks normally grab at these splashes, mistaking them as movement of their normal prey including fish, sea turtles, sea lions and seals. Once they bite and realize their mistake, they usually back away, classifying most bites as "hit and runs," according to Burgess.

The top four beaches on the East coast with the highest risk of being bitten by a shark include New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach, Florida, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, Burgess said.


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kristen Rodman at Kristen.Rodman@accuweather.com or follow her on Twitter @Accu_Kristen. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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