Shark attacks can be prevented

After nine more people were bitten by sharks last week off New Smyrna Beach in Florida, the beach was closed to swimmers. However, the beach should have not been opened at all. At least 19 people this year have been attacked by sharks off New Smyrna Beach, which should motivate officials to close the beaches until the sharks in the area stop feeding in swimming areas.

The news has been full of shark attacks all across Florida this summer. The 19 attacks in New Smyrna Beach account for almost half of the shark attacks reported worldwide for 2001. Though most of the injuries incurred during the attacks were minor, people should heed the warnings of state officials and the media by not swimming in areas known to have large numbers of sharks.

Monday, officials of New Smyrna Beach counted at least 20 sharks swimming offshore and kept the beaches closed. The sharks in those waters have been feeding on several large schools of fish that they corralled into the area. Swimmers have not heeded any warnings and were allowed to swim near the waters.

Sharks have poor eyesight and depend more on their sense of smell to guide them to food. However, from under the water, swimmers, people on rafts and surfers often resemble fish in the eyes of the sharks. Sharks do not naturally feed on people nor do they purposely attack people ála Jaws. Instead, they misjudge what the objects above them are and attack, thinking they are going to get mouthfuls of fish.

To continue swimming in areas known to be shark infested is ignorant and negligent. It is up to humans to regulate swimming areas properly and to designate safe areas where shark sightings are few or nonexistent. Only then will the shark attacks end and people can enjoy their vacations without worrying whether they will culminate in tragedy.