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Florida Shark Expert Summoned To Mexico After Third Attack In Four Weeks
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GAINSVILLE, Florida -- Florida Museum of Natural History shark expert George Burgess was summoned to Mexico Monday by the State of Guerrero after a third shark attack off the Mexican coast in a month. The attacks April 28 and May 23 and 24 killed two surfers, alarming government officials in the resort area.

Burgess is working with scientific colleagues and public officials to determine the potential reasons for the increased frequency of attacks and help calm the fears of locals attempting to catch as many sharks as possible from the beaches to eliminate the threat.

"Setting baited hooks to kill sharks only attracts them into the area and thus is counterproductive," Burgess said. "We want to let people know what factors influence these events and educate them on what they can do. There is a lot of reaction to these attacks specifically because of their frequency."

The attacks have worried local government and citizens in a coastal region where fatal shark attacks are rare. The last fatal shark attack in the area was in 1997, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File.

Since arriving in Mexico, Burgess has visited the attack sites, interviewing witnesses and examining environmental conditions, specific actions of the victims and other factors that may have contributed to the attacks.

Burgess and his colleagues will continue to examine local oceanographic and beach utilization patterns to see if they may have played a role in these shark-human interactions.

"We are trying to find the causative factors of these attacks," Burgess said. "Our hope is that we can put this shark situation in perspective now and in the future. We will continue to study the local shark community and begin collaborative efforts to find the cause."

Each of the three shark victims was surfing prior to being attacked. Adrian Ruiz, an American tourist, was fatally attacked April 28 in the waters off Troncones. The second attack occurred about 6 miles to the south at Pantla, fatally injuring Osvaldo Mata, a Mexican native on May 23. The most recent victim, Bruce Grimes, an American now living in Mexico, was attacked Saturday off of Playa Linda, but was able to escape with injuries to his arm and hand.

Burgess is director of the International Shark Attack File and the Florida Program for Shark Research, both housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus. In recent years, Burgess has been asked to visit various locations including Pensacola; Hong Kong and Cozumel, Mexico when high frequencies of attacks or unusual attacks have occurred.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

2 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

I agree with George Burgess on the principle of context. So many fears about sharks and attacks on humans are present in this day and age. People just need to look at all the factors, we frequent their environment with abandon. Maybe people should learn to respect their atmosphere and accept the consequences involved with toying with an ecosystem.
   comment# 1   - Zane Pafford · st.petersburgh fl, u.s.a. · Jan 7, 2009 @ 5:28pm

When did we start to think that sharks were as important as humans. If had been a lion,or tiger, or bear (oh,my!) that was attacking people we woild hunt it down and kill it. Why should sharks get a brak?
   comment# 2   - Tom Alan · Atlanta, GA · Nov 16, 2009 @ 8:21pm
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