Are There Sharks in Cocoa Beach? Everything You Need to Know in 2023

Are there sharks in Cocoa Beach? This is one of the most frequently asked questions by individuals looking forward to visiting this popular beach.

There have been a number of shark attacks recorded across the world and this has necessitated the beach lovers to research more about the presence of sharks in beaches where they intend to visit.

Cocoa beach is one of the most popular beaches in Florida.

However, one thing you have to note is that it is among the most shark infested beaches we have in the USA.

So, having knowledge about the sharks in this beach is very important if you’re planning to visit this beach.

In this post, I will answer comprehensively the question “are there sharks in Cocoa Beach?”

Additionally, the post will answer all questions pertaining to sharks in this area and any information that you need to know as you plan your beach vacation.

Let us dive straight into it.

Are There Sharks in Cocoa Beach? Understanding Cocoa Beach

Are There Sharks in Cocoa Beach?

Brief History and Geography of Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is located in Brevard County, East-Central Florida, USA.

It is situated on a barrier island between the Banana River (lagoon) and the Atlantic Ocean, just south of Cape Canaveral and near Patrick Air Force Base, which is about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Orlando

The first non-native settlement in the area was by a family of freed slaves following the American Civil War.

In 1888, a group of men from Cocoa bought the entire tract of land, which went undeveloped until it was bought out in 1923 by a member of the group – Gus Edwards, Cocoa’s city attorney.

The town of Cocoa Beach was established on June 5, 1925, by Gus Edward.

Cocoa Beach developed rapidly after 1950 with the emergence of U.S. space programs at Cape Canaveral and the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

The city’s beach, favorable climate and its proximity to the cape spurred development as a top tourist destination.

Additionally, military and space-related industries also contribute to the economy.

Why is the Topic of Sharks in Cocoa Beach Important to Beachgoers and Tourists?

Public Safety

  • Knowing about the types of sharks found in Cocoa Beach and the history of shark attacks can help you take necessary precautions to stay safe while enjoying your beach vacation.
  • Additionally, this information will help you understand what to do in case you encounter a shark while swimming in Cocoa Beach to prevent dangerous situations.

Environmental Awareness

  • Learning about wildlife in the area, including sharks, can help you appreciate the natural beauty of Cocoa Beach and the need to protect it.

Recreational Opportunities

  • Cocoa Beach is known for its beautiful beaches and outdoor activities, such as swimming, sunbathing, surfing, kayaking, and nature tours
  • Knowing about the potential risks associated with these activities, such as encountering sharks, can help visitors make informed decisions about how to enjoy their time in Cocoa Beach

Are There Sharks in Cocoa Beach?

Are There Sharks in Cocoa Beach?

If you’re wondering whether they are sharks in cocoa beach, then the answer is YES.

Due to its location along the Atlantic coast, cocoa beach is home to a variety of Species of sharks.

The North Atlantic Ocean, where Cocoa Beach is situated, is thought to be home to approximately 40 species of sharks.

If you’re looking forward to visiting this beach, it is important to note that cocoa beach has recorded among the highest number of shark attacks in the past.

In fact, Cocoa Beach has recorded the second highest number of shark attacks since 1882 with Smyrna Beach recording the highest number of shark attacks.

However, this should not scare you as this beach destination has fantastic opportunities and is considered one of the best shark fishing destinations in the country.

Types of Sharks Found in Cocoa Beach

Lemon Sharks

Are There Sharks in Cocoa Beach?

The lemon shark is a species of sharks from the family Carcharhinidae and is classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Lemon sharks are among the most common species of sharks found in Cocoa Beach.

They can grow up to 3.4 meters (11ft) in length and weigh up to 190kgs.

These species of sharks are recognized by their distinct yellow-brown skin that helps them camouflage the sandy tropical waters they inhabit.

They spend a lot of time in the sand looking for their prey that includes rays, fish and crustaceans.

Lemon sharks are social, intelligent and stealthy.

They are not aggressive as compared to the blacktip sharks but they can be dangerous if provoked.

Blacktip Sharks

Black tip sharks are the most common species of sharks found in the taters of Cocoa Beach, Florida.

They are medium-sized sharks that can grow up to 6ft in length.

They have a pointed snout, black-tipped fins and a streamlined body that makes them fast swimmers.

Black tip sharks have a distinctive black or dark gray coloring on the tips of their fins, which is how they got the name.

They are known to swim in large schools and are often seen jumping out of the water.

Generally, they are not aggressive towards humans but it’s important to note that they account for the largest percentage (15%) of all unprovoked attacks that have happened in the sunshine state since 1926.

Currently, Blacktip Sharks are not listed as endangered but they are considered a Near Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

They are often caught as bycatch in Commercial fishing operations, which can have a negative impact on their populations.

Sandbar Sharks

Sandbar sharks are species of sharks found in the waters off Cocoa Beach, Florida.

The species of sharks are large and stocky, and can grow up to 8 feet in length.

They have a large rounded snout, large dorsal fin and grayish-brown coloring that helps them blend in with the ocean floor.

Sandbar sharks prefer living in the shallow Waters near the shore and are often considered as opportunistic feeders that prey on small fish, eels, skates, octopus, rays, crabs and squid.

They are not considered aggressive towards humans and are generally shy around people.

Bonnethead Sharks

Bonnethead Sharks are the smallest species of hammerhead sharks and are found in Cocoa Beach.

Mature Bonnethead Sharks can grow up to 4 ft in length.

They are characterized by a distinctive shovel-shaped head that is often wider than it is long.

This head plays a crucial role in helping the sharks detect their prey in the sand.

They are often found in the shallow waters off Cocoa Beach and feed on crabs, small fish and shrimp.

Bonnethead Sharks are not considered a threat to humans and are generally shy when around people.

Blacknose Sharks

Blacknose Sharks are some of the sharks found in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

They are small to medium-sized shelves that can grow up to 75ft in length.

These sharks have a pointed snout, a dark spot on the tip of their snout and a grayish-brown coloring that helps them camouflage.

They are bottom-dwelling sharks known to feed on crustaceans, small fish and cephalopods.

They are generally not considered as a threat to humans and are considered Near Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Other species of sharks that can be found in the waters off Cocoa Beach include the Hammerhead Shark and the Spinner Shark.

Are There Sharks in Cocoa Beach?

Statistics on Shark Attacks in Cocoa Beach

Are There Sharks in Cocoa Beach?

Having known the types of sharks that inhabit the coastal waters off Cocoa Beach, let’s look at the shark attacks statistics in Cocoa Beach and how they compare to other areas within the state.

Cocoa Beach is located in Brevard County and is a beautiful beach destination that is popular especially during the summer months.

Shark attacks at Cocoa Beach, Florida have been a concern, especially with a slew of encounters raising concerns ahead of the 4th of July holiday weekend.

In 2022, the U.S. had 41 unprovoked shark bites, with Florida accounting for 16 of these cases.

However, it’s important to note that shark attacks have been decreasing worldwide in the last few years.

Volusia County in Florida saw just seven in 2022, down from 16 in 2021.

So far in 2023, there have been three incidents.

As of July 25, 2023, there have been 49 shark bites this year globally, eight of which were provoked and seven were fatal.

In the U.S., there have been 26 incidents: thirteen in Florida, three in Hawaii, five in New York, and two in South Carolina.

In terms of Cocoa Beach specifically, there have been over 150 recorded shark attacks since 1882.

However, it’s important to remember that while these numbers may seem high, they should be considered in the context of the number of people who visit and swim at the beach each year.

Table Showing the Number of Attacks Since 1882

Florida County Total Number of Shark Attacks Since 1882
Volusia 337
Brevard 155
Palm Beach 81
Duval 46
Martin 45

It is however important to note that since 2012, there have been no cases of fatal bites recorded in the state of Florida according to the Florida Museum.

Table Showing the Number of Total Bites, Fatal Shark Bites and Non-Fatal Shark Bites

Year Total Bites Fatal Shark Bites Non-Fatal Shark Bites 
2012 27 0 27
2013 24 0 24
2014 28 0 28
2015 30 0 30
2016 36 0 36
2017 31 0 31
2018 18 0 18
2019 21 0 21
2020 16 0 16
2021 28 0 28
Total 259 0 259

How Safe is it to Swim in Cocoa Beach?Are There Sharks in Cocoa Beach?

Swimming in Cocoa Beach, like any other beach, comes with its own set of risks and rewards.

While it’s true that there have been over 150 recorded shark attacks in Cocoa Beach since 1882, it’s important to remember that these numbers should be considered in the context of the number of people who visit and swim at the beach each year.

Cocoa Beach is a very popular destination that attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year.

In general, Cocoa Beach is considered safe for swimming.

However, as with any beach, there are a few safety tips you should keep in mind:

  • Always swim near a lifeguard.
  • Avoid swimming at dawn or dusk when sharks are most active.
  • Don’t swim alone.
  • Avoid swimming if you have open wounds as it can attract sharks.

Remember, while shark attacks do happen, they are extremely rare.

You’re more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a shark.

So, while it’s important to be aware and take precautions, don’t let the fear of sharks keep you from enjoying the beach.

Cocoa Beach Shark Attack Incidents in 2023

According to the 2023 Shark Attack Map, there have been 9 shark attack bites reported in Florida, including Cocoa Beach, as of August 2023.

None of the attacks were fatal.

One of the notable incidents involved a 12-year-old girl named Magnolia Woodhead.

She was swimming in Cocoa Beach when a shark latched onto her leg.

She reported that the shark bit her three times, leading to 50 stitches.

Such incidents have often raised concerns especially among beach lovers.

Despite these incidents, it’s important to remember that shark attacks are relatively rare compared to the number of people who swim in these waters.

Always follow safety guidelines when swimming in areas known for shark activity.

Safest Time to Swim at Cocoa Beach to Avoid Shark Attacks

The safest time to swim at Cocoa Beach to avoid shark attacks is when the water is clear and during daylight hours.

More specifically, it’s highly recommended to avoid swimming during the months of August and September, especially in the afternoon, as the cases of shark bites are high during these times.

Also, it’s advised to avoid being in the water during darkness or twilight hours when sharks are most active and have a competitive sensory advantage.

Avoid locations where there is an abrupt change from shallow water to deep water if you’re getting in the ocean at Cocoa Beach because it is a white sand beach free of stones or algae.

Please refrain from entering the water if any area of your body has a significant wound from which blood is oozing.

Sharks can detect blood up to 4 kilometers away. You’re endangering not only other people but also yourself.

Mensuration also doesn’t make you more likely to get bitten by a shark. So, even during your periods, you can swim in the water.

Remember, always follow safety guidelines when swimming in areas known for shark activity.

What Depth of Water Do Most Shark Attacks Occur?

Most shark attacks occur in shallow water.

Attacks on surfers and swimmers are most common in 6 to 10 feet of water.

The second and third most common depths for these kinds of attacks are 11 to 20 feet and 0 to 5 feet, respectively.

Sharks often congregate close to shore or near sandbars or areas with nearby deep drop-offs, because that’s where their prey is often located.

It’s also worth noting that most attacks occur in nearshore waters, typically inshore of a sandbar or between sandbars where sharks feed and can become trapped at low tide.

What Time of the Day do Sharks Come Close to the Beach at Cocoa Beach?

Sharks can come close to the beach at Cocoa Beach at any time of the day, but they are most active during the early morning and late afternoon hours.

A drone photographer captured a herd of sharks swimming within about 1,000 feet of the shoreline early in the morning on August 14, 2022.

However, it’s important to note that shark activity can vary depending on a number of factors, including water temperature, prey availability, and time of year.

So, Can You Swim at Cocoa Beach Year Round?

Yes, you can swim at Cocoa Beach year-round.

The water temperature in Cocoa Beach is pleasant, even in December, with an average sea temperature of 74°F (min/max: 72°F/77°F), allowing you to swim for a long time and enjoy water sports.

However, always remember to check the local weather and sea conditions before you go, and always swim near a lifeguard for safety.

Safety Tips for Visitors at Cocoa Beach

Swim Near Lifeguard Towers

Always swim in areas monitored by lifeguards.

They are trained to recognize potential dangers, such as sharks, and can offer quick support in an emergency.

Avoid Swimming in Murky Water

Sharks are more likely to mistake humans for prey in murky or turbid waters.

Avoid swimming in areas where water visibility is poor.

Stay in Groups

Sharks are more likely to target individuals who are isolated.

Swim with friends or family members, as larger groups are less attractive to sharks.

Avoid Swimming Near Fishing Activity

Avoid swimming near areas where fishing or bait fish activity is taking place, as this can attract sharks looking for an easy meal.

Leave Jewelry and Shiny Objects Behind

Reflective or shiny jewelry and objects can attract sharks, as they resemble the sheen of fish scales.

Consider leaving such items onshore.

Be Cautious Near Sandbars and Drop-offs

Sandbars and drop-offs can be popular hunting grounds for sharks. Be mindful when swimming near these areas, and avoid swimming in deep channels.

Pay Attention to Local Warnings

Stay informed about any shark sightings or warnings issued by local authorities or lifeguards. Follow their advice and avoid swimming in areas with recent shark activity.

Don’t Swim Near Schools of Fish

Sharks often follow schools of fish, so if you notice a large group of fish in the water, it’s best to steer clear.

Avoid Swimming in Areas with Schools of Dolphins or Seabirds

While dolphins and seabirds are fascinating to watch, they are often indicators of the presence of larger fish and potentially sharks.

Exercise caution if you see them in the vicinity.

Know How to React if You Encounter a Shark

If you encounter a shark while swimming, try to remain calm and slowly back away from the shark without making sudden movements.

Maintain eye contact if possible.

Are There Sharks in Cocoa Beach? Final Thoughts

Are there sharks in Cocoa Beach? The answer is YES.

Cocoa Beach is home to a number of sharks with the Blacktip and Lemon sharks being the most common.

The Florida coastal waters have recorded a significant number of shark attacks since the year 1882, with Cocoa Beach in Brevard County recording a significant number of cases.

However, this should not discourage you from visiting the beach as these cases of shark attacks are very rare.

Always take safety precautions as advised above in order to enjoy your beach time.

Learn More About Sharks

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