• Surfer bitten by shark in New Smyrna: 'We're surfing their ocean'

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    NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - An 18-year-old surfer in New Smyrna Beach left the water with some bite wounds Wednesday after an encounter with a shark.

    Matthew Zaccaria of Ormond Beach suffered two minor lacerations when the shark bit his foot while he was near the jetty.

    Zaccaria, who was driven to a hospital for treatment, said he was in waist-deep water, walking toward shore, when he was bitten.


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    He said the incident happened near the jetty and that he didn't see the shark.

    Zaccaria said that if you spend enough time in the water near the inlet, you could get bitten.

    "Just don't go swimming out to the waves or something, because you're going to get (bitten), like I just did," he said.

    Experts said Zaccaria is the second person bitten by a shark in Volusia County this year. The surfer said he was just about to wrap up his session when the shark nipped him in the foot. He said he knew what happened almost immediately.

    "I like jerked my leg back as fast as I could and just jumped on my board and started paddling as fast as I could towards the beach," he said.

    Zaccaria was surfing with other longtime surfers who know the area very well. They said that as bait fish started coming into shore with the tide, Zaccaria got bitten.

    "It just seems like they're more aggressive down here than like other places, but it's just because there's an inlet and there's a bunch of fish," Zaccaria said.

    Experts from the International Shark Attack File said the abundant food source in Ponce Inlet is a factor that makes New Smyrna the shark bite capital of the world. They said the other factor is the large number of college and high school students who like to surf. 

    Zaccaria fits the key demographic. He is cautiously optimistic about being back in the water in a few weeks.

    "We're surfing their ocean, so that's the way it goes, I guess," he said.

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