You may understand on an intellectual level that shark attacks in the United States are extremely rare but still hear the Jaws theme music when you step into the ocean.
However, we’re here to help change that tune. Learning the facts before you visit Crab Island in Destin, Florida can make you feel more comfortable during your stay. After all, why come all this way and avoid the beautiful water!?
Are There Sharks in Destin, Florida?
Shark sightings are extremely rare on Crab Island in Destin, Florida, and shark attacks around Destin are even rarer.
According to the international shark attack file, there have only been four recorded shark attacks in Destin Florida, and the Okaloosa area, with the last attack occurring about 140 years ago in 1882. No fatalities occurred as a result of any of the incidents.
Part of the “Redneck Riviera” and Florida’s Emerald Coast, Destin, Florida is a beach town located in the Panhandle of Florida in the northern part of the state. The city technically rests on a peninsula that separates the Gulf of Mexico from Choctawhatchee Bay. It’s just about an hour away from Panama City Beach
The area boasts a rich ecosystem with a wide range of plant and animal marine life, including an impressive array of jellyfish.
While Florida as a whole does experience its share of shark attacks, they tend to happen in Southern Florida. Destin, however, is located significantly more north than where the majority of attacks take place.
There are technically sharks in Destin, Florida. However, the sharks in the area aren’t usually the ferocious killing machines we picture when we think of a shark in the movies.
Different Types of Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico
The dreaded great white shark and other large sharks, such as nurse sharks and tiger sharks, do make an appearance in the Emerald Coast from time to time, but it is extremely rare to see those shark species in Emerald Coast waters.
More likely, you will spot one of the following less threatening sharks found in the Gulf of Mexico:
Often referred to as miniature hammerhead sharks, the bonnethead shark only reaches 3 – 4 feet in length and does not present a threat to humans. They will swim close to the shore, but you probably won’t notice thanks to their small size.
Blacktip Reef Shark
A blacktip reef shark has the dorsal fin that you picture when you imagine a shark in the ocean. However, these sharks only reach 4 – 5 feet in length. You may see blacktip sharks near shore, but they usually focus on hunting in schools and don’t present a threat to humans.
The bull shark can grow to 12 feet and 800 pounds. These sharks have been known to travel from the seawater of the Atlantic Ocean into freshwater, making them adaptable. When caught in a precarious situation, bull sharks act with aggression. A bull shark presents the greatest threat, as we mentioned, sightings are extremely rare in the Destin area.
Shark Safety at Crab Island
Ok, hopefully, these facts and data about sharks in Destin have put your mind at ease. However, if you want to take extra precautions to boot…here are some simple tips to help you remain vigilant from sharks at Crab Island.
Swim During the Day
Sunlight helps you and other swimmers spot a danger when it does present itself.
Only swim when you have plenty of light (and ideally, a lifeguard present).
Swimming at night is not advised, especially when the beach is closed to the public for the evening. A sandbar shark may be buried in the sand, but you won’t be able to see it in the dark.
Avoid Bright, Reflective Attire
Sharks like shiny things.
Your fun swimsuit with reflective designs and bright colors may allow you to stand out onshore in a good way, but it can attract sharks once you get into the water.
Don’t forget to consider your jewelry, watch, shoes, and sunglasses, too.
Adhere to Shark Warnings
You will get ample notice if the area experiences a shark sighting.
Some people avoid these warnings, assuming the authorities are overcautious.
Adhere to any shark warnings during your stay. They don’t happen often, so you shouldn’t anticipate it. If it does happen, you can hang out at the pool until the warning is lifted.
Stay Away From Fishermen
Fishermen use bait to attract their catch.
The prey fishermen use may attract sharks, and some of the fishermen may be shark fishing illegally.
During a particularly epic struggle with a large fish, there may also be blood near the fisherman’s boat, also another potential way to attract sharks.
Best Places to Visit in Destin, Florida
Stop worrying about sharks and start planning your trip to Destin, Florida. Fear of sharks should not keep you from experiencing the amazing beaches in Destin, and cooling off in the pristine waters.
Some of the destinations to check out include:
- Miramar Beach
- Fort Walton Beach
- New Smyrna Beach
- Okaloosa Island
- Crab Island (rent a boat to get there!)
If you time it properly, you can attend the famous Destin Fishing Rodeo that takes place every year.
Final Thoughts on Sharks in Destin Florida
Don’t let your movie or folklore-driven fear of a shark attack prevent you from a great family vacation in Destin Florida. Most sharks won’t go near the shore, and the ones that do are usually harmless.
In addition, If you take the proper precautions the likelihood of a shark attack is extremely low. Remember, there hasn’t been a shark attack in Destin Florida in a very long time.