Florida has thousands of miles of coastline, and although the waters off Florida’s coast are beautiful, they are also home to various species of shark. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee (FFWCC) enacted a ban in 2002 prohibiting anyone from feeding sharks in Florida’s coastal waters. However, a man’s death in 2008 while feeding sharks in the ocean near the Bahamas brings to light a difficult situation. If extreme tourism companies can take Floridians and other tourists from around the world to the Bahamas to engage in dangerous activities, what happens when someone gets hurt? An Orlando personal injury attorney can talk to you about your options if you have suffered a shark bite injury while on a commercial expedition.
Florida’s Ban on Shark Feeding
In 2002, the FFWCC issued a ban on feeding sharks while on skin diving expeditions in Florida’s coastal waters. Hawaii, the Cayman Islands and other coastal communities with large tourism volumes. Florida’s ban prohibits divers from feeding marine wildlife. The ban includes feeding sharks.
The Bahamas Loophole
The Bahamas islands are a small island chain located about 50 miles off Florida’s southern coast, easily accessible by boat or plane. Floridians frequently visit the Bahamas, and after Florida issued its ban on shark feeding, the tourist boating excursions began to drift into Bahaman waters. Tourists looking for the thrill of feeding the beautiful but deadly sharks can contact Florida diving excursion businesses and arrange trips to the Bahamas coast, where they can freely dive and swim in chum-filled waters without cages while dangerous predators surround them.
Since Florida’s shark feeding ban passed, several people suffered injuries or have died from shark attacks while feeding sharks off the coast of the Bahamas. In 2002, rodeo performer Erich Ritter nearly died when a bull shark attacked him during a shark-feeding expedition. In 2008, Austrian attorney Marcus Groh bled to death after a bull shark bit him during a recreational shark feeding dive in the Bahamas, led by a Florida-based diving excursion company. In 2009, Floridian Luis Hernandez suffered a severe bull shark bite in the Bahamas. While Hernandez was not feeding sharks at the time, the sharks in the area no longer fear humans and now associate humans with food because humans feed them.
In 2010, Jim Abernethy, owner of the diving excursion company that oversaw the dive that killed Marcus Groh, suffered serious injury when a shark attacked him on a dive.
If you or someone you love has suffered a shark attack or a shark bite while diving in the Bahamas with a Florida-based tourism or excursion company, an Orlando personal injury lawyer may be able to help you. Contact experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.