NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) — A 38-year-old man from South Carolina had an encounter with a shark in New Smyrna Beach that left him with a face bite.

On Wednesday, the waters were teeming with surfers was they rode the waves that had been amplified by Hurricane Lee’s presence in the Atlantic. Daniel Hanson, an experienced surfer, reflected on the risks of sharing the ocean with sharks.

“They’re just critters looking for food, you know? Like me and you. And when you go in the water, you enter the food chain,” he said.

The incident occurred around 8 a.m. in the New Smyrna Beach Inlet Jetty region when aerial footage revealed the presence of several sharks in the vicinity.

Despite the known risks, surfers like Hanson are undeterred.

“I’ve had them swim right by me,” he said. “Bull sharks swim right by me. They’re really oblivious to you.”

Shark bites in the area are typically injuries to hands or feet, often a result of mistaken identity, where sharks mistake a surfer’s extremities for prey. In this recent case, officials reported that the surfer came off his board in a wave and came face to face with a shark. The shark bit him on the top right side of his cheek, between his ear and eye.

Ron Robinson, another surfer, explained

“9 out of 10 times, it’s because they’ll fall in the shallow water and they’ll spook the shark, and it’s a reaction bite,” he said. “It’s not like the shark just comes after them, you know?”

Volusia County, home to New Smyrna Beach, records more shark bites per year than any other location in the country. In 2023 alone, there have been seven reported shark bites in the area, though the numbers can vary from as few as three or four to as many as 22 in a year.

Despite the reputation, the thrill of surfing continues to draw enthusiasts to New Smyrna Beach, where they accept the inherent risks of sharing the waters with these apex predators.

George Franco, another surfer, likened it to driving on busy highways.

“That’s like saying there’s bad drivers on I-4. We know they’re out there,” he said. “The sharks are out there, it’s their backyard, you just try not to fall on them.”

The 38-year-old man was released from the hospital just a few hours after arriving and is expected to make a full recovery.

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