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    Autopsy confirms shark death

Thursday, 31 August 2000 18:50 (ET)

ST. PETERSBURG BEACH, Fla., Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Autopsy results released Thursday confirm that it was a shark that killed a St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., man Wednesday.

University of Florida shark expert George Burgess, who assisted in the autopsy, said it was probably an 8- to 9-foot-long bull shark weighing about 400 pounds. This type of shark has "very large serrated teeth," Burgess said.

He said bull sharks are known to be aggressive.

A shark expert at SeaWorld in Orlando said Thursday that the odds of being attacked by a shark and killed are very low. Curator of fishes Gary Violetta said the risk is similar to that of being hit by lightning, stung by bees or run over by a bus.

Kubinski, 69, was swimming with his wife in Boca Ciega Bay only five to 10 feet from the dock behind their home when the shark bit him. His son Edward said his mother had entered the water first and commented on how many mullet there were in the water.

When she saw her husband fighting with the shark, she got out of the water and called for help. He was clinging to a dock pier when she returned, with a bite extending from his armpit to his thigh. He died at the scene. An autopsy is being performed to confirm the cause of death.

Violetta said about 70 to 100 people are bitten by sharks annually worldwide, but only five to 15 of those attacks are fatal. In 99 percent of human bites, he said sharks were just seeking food and let go once they realize what they have bitten is not a fish.

"In actuality, sharks have more to fear from man than man has from sharks," he said.

To avoid shark bites, he recommended staying out of the ocean when bleeding, not swimming at dawn or dusk when sharks feed, and leaving the water immediately if schools of fish are in the area.

Twenty-two people have been bitten by sharks in Florida so far this year. Only five people have been killed by sharks in Florida in the past 25 years. The last fatality was in 1998 off Vero Beach, when a 9-year-old boy died. Kubinski was the first shark fatality in Pinellas County since 1981.

Edward Kubinski said he used to fish and boat in the same area. "I've never seen a shark in these waters before," he said. -- Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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