Sharks, deadly rip currents plague beachgoers in Florida, East Coast

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Sharks bit two Florida swimmers, while swimmers in North Carolina and New Jersey had to be rescued from the water over Labor Day weekend.

A woman, 37, was swimming in waist-deep water in Ponce Inlet off of Florida’s Atlantic coastline when a shark bit her right foot on Labor Day, according to FOX 35 Orlando. Also, on Monday, on the same beach, a man in his 30s had his left hand bitten by a shark.

In North Carolina, a 28-year-old woman died at Cape Hatteras National Seashore after being overtaken by strong waves and disappearing under the surf for a time, a witness said to the National Park Service. The NPS noted that ocean conditions in the area were reported to be rough with a high risk of rip currents.

Further up north in New Jersey, emergency responders tended to multiple water rescues in Seaside Heights on Sunday, according to the Seaside Park Station 45 Volunteer Fire Company. In the beach town of Belmar, police said lifeguards and water rescue members saved five swimmers in distress. Another swimmer was unresponsive and taken to a nearby hospital.

Many Atlantic beaches over the Labor Day holiday weekend were plagued by rip currents. Rip currents, which are strong, narrow currents that flow from the shore to the open water, are responsible for about 100 deaths yearly in the U.S., according to NOAA.

While rip currents can commonly occur, their prevalence over the weekend was caused by former Hurricane Idalia as it churned hundreds of miles off of the U.S. coastline. Despite its distance, Idalia sent heavy surf and powerful wind toward the shoreline, creating rip current conditions.

Because of this, officials along many Atlantic beaches pleaded with the public to be aware of rip current warning flags that may be posted on the beaches. They also asked the public to refrain from swimming in areas where lifeguards are not on duty.

“With sunshine and temps in the 80s being forecast during the week and no lifeguards protecting most beaches up and down the NJ coast, STAY OUT OF THE WATER. Otherwise, you risk death. It’s that simple,” said Seaside Heights officials in a Facebook post.

“STAY OUT, and you guarantee that the ocean and dangerous rip tides will not kill you,” they added.

Sharks have also become a common sight near Atlantic beaches, with a number of them being reported from Massachusetts to Florida, with the Sunshine State being home to the highest number of unprovoked shark attacks in the world in 2022.

Source: FOX Weather