Tips for beachgoers during increased shark activity

 PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Even with the increased shark activity in the gulf people are still making their way over to the beaches. With purple flags flying, it’s important to know what to do when encountering these animals.On Friday, Jun. 7, three women were bitten by sharks in Walton County. The two attacks […] [[{“value”:”

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Even with the increased shark activity in the gulf people are still making their way over to the beaches.

With purple flags flying, it’s important to know what to do when encountering these animals.
On Friday, Jun. 7, three women were bitten by sharks in Walton County.


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The two attacks occurred within four miles of each other and only 90 minutes apart.

Panama City Beach safety director, Darryl Paul, said although shark attacks are quite a rarity, it’s not uncommon to see them so close to shore.

“The Gulf of Mexico is home to a very dense, diverse species of sharks,” Panama City Beach Safety Director Darryl Paul said.

On Sunday, in both Bay and Walton County, purple flags were flying.

There is a wide variety of sharks that call the Gulf of Mexico home.

Paul said that bull sharks are the ones people need to be on the lookout for.

“We are seeing an influx of bull sharks. They are known to be more territorial, a little more aggressive,” Paul said.

Officials said there’s a reason behind the increased shark movement in the gulf, their food source is near the shore.

“With the gulf warming up temperatures are warming up. That’s bringing in a lot of bait fish. Ok, so when bait fish come in, that brings in a lot of bigger fish which then brings in predator fish. and this is their natural habitat. This is their home. There’s not a place where there’s not sharks, there’s always going to be sharks,” Paul said.


Panama City Beach officials advise beachgoers to stay cool and hydrated

It’s recommended, while in the water to stay knee-deep so it’s easier to get out, avoid wearing high-contrast clothing and jewelry, and when encountering a shark it’s best to act calmly and give it space.

“Treat it like a wild animal. Don’t feed it, don’t approach it, stay calm, and try to exit the water as easy as you can and give it its space. Give it the respect that it deserves. Just give it space. Give it the respect that it deserves,” Paul said.

Bay and Walton County locals, used to the marine life, are not too worried about the sharks and are just hoping beachgoers respect them.

“I would just stay aware and know that they live out there and just be on high alert and say, just enjoy yourself, just be alert,” Freeport resident Curtis Kimble said.

“Now just keep a respectable distance. Don’t go out too far, but they do come up to knee length. You just got to keep an eye out while you’re in the water. But you should be keeping an eye out anyway for jellyfish and stingrays,” Panama City Beach resident Savanna Hawkins said.

When it comes to tourists, many of them are aware of the shark attacks but are not too worried about enjoying the beach.

“We don’t go that far out with him, so it’s not like they’re going to come like two feet in the water and try to get us so,” tourist Codi Hiltenbeitel said.

“We got waist deep, but that’s about it, just like watching our surroundings,” tourist Haley King said.

Paul asks all beachgoers to swim near a lifeguard.

If there are any incidents, they can swiftly be tended to.


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“Our business model is service over self. We’re here to serve the community. We want to be here for the community. Be here for the citizens. So, if you come to the beach, please visit a guarded beach,” Paul said.

Sunday is the third day in a row that purple flags were flying.

Beach officials and local authorities continued patrolling the water out of an abundance of caution.

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