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How common are sharks around Tampa Bay? | News

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How common are sharks around Tampa Bay?
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TAMPA, Florida -- It's the question a lot of people are asking after hearing a 10 foot long, estimated 400 lb. bull shark was caught by a group of fishermen near the Howard Frankland Bridge Monday morning.

How many other sharks are lurking in the water around us?

"I would be more worried if there weren't 300 to 400 lb. sharks out there," said Eric Hovland, from the Florida Aquarium.

Photo Gallery: 10-foot bull shark near Howard Frankland

Hovland says sharks are common in Tampa Bay. He points out the Gulf of Mexico is filled with thousands of them and naturally a number of the predators make their way here.

But he stresses it's not something to really be concerned about.

"It's their home.  They know we're there and they are going to avoid us because we are a potential threat.  We're something big, and weird, and strange in their environment and it's just better to stay away," Hovland explained.

In recent years 10 News has covered a number of stories about bull sharks being caught locally.

That includes a 325 lb. shark caught near the St. Pete Pier. A YouTube search turns up a group trying to catch one on the Manatee River.

Hovland says the animals are critical to the food chain.

"A lot of healthy sharks out there.  They have their space and we have ours," he said.

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, there have been 12 recorded shark attacks in Pinellas, seven in Sarasota, and none in Hillsborough.

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