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CNN Today

Beneath the Surface: Our Fascination and Fear of Sharks

Aired August 17, 2000 - 2:49 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A shark attack this week in Jacksonville, Florida, makes 19 in that state so far this year. That's about average in Florida. But as uncommon as attacks are, they also seem to capture our attention.

CNN's Susan Candiotti talks with a researcher about our fascination and fear of sharks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAPT. VINCENT ANDREANO, MIAMI BEACH PATROL: Sometimes they actually tell us that see sharks in the water, but when we check it out, it's usually a tarpon.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Miami Beach patrol captain Vincent Andreano, in South Florida, shark sightings are rare, attacks even rarer, but lifeguards are always on the lookout.

ANDREANO: They get everyone out of the water until the shark passes and goes back out to sea.

CANDIOTTI: This week, a surfer in Jacksonville was bitten by a shark, one of 20 victims in Florida this year, one of 28 from the Carolinas to Texas.

Last month, this 19-year-old Floridian was one of two teenagers bitten by a three-foot shark.

In June, Alabama officials closed 30 miles of public beaches on the Gulf Coast after two men were attacked by sharks.

Also in June, off the Texas coast, this 17-year-old was bitten on the foot as he paddled several yards offshore.

PROF. SAM GRUBER, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: Do I think that there are some special factors this year? that there never were before? No, I don't.

CANDIOTTI: University of Miami shark researcher Sam Gruber says, sharks are not out to get people.

GRUBER: In many cases, they're saying, I'm afraid of you, I don't know what you are, you're scaring me. In some cases, they're saying, you're competing with me and I would like you not to do that. CANDIOTTI (on camera): Researcher Gruber says experts may espouse all kinds of theories about why shark attacks go up and down like the stock market, but because those attacks are so rare worldwide, Gruber says it's virtually impossible to test those theories.

(voice-over): What to do if a shark's coming at you? Here's one approach:

ANDREANO: Try to ward it off, or hit it right in the nose with a kick or a punch.

CANDIOTTI: Scare it off, he says. That is, if you're not too scared yourself.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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