Swimming in the emerald waters of Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island is without a doubt one of the top things to do on the Emerald Coast when on vacation. But, you may also have some concerns about interacting with our marine life, namely sharks.

Scrolling through your newsfeed on Facebook or Instagram you may have seen videos of sharks swimming along the edge of the beach. And, they do. They are a natural occurrence in our waters and this is their home. But, contrary to what the internet would have you believe, their interactions with humans are very rare.

When we say rare, we mean it. There have only ever been three shark attacks in Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island since 1882, according to the University of Florida. And, there has never been a fatally resulting from a shark attack in the heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast.

So, will you see a shark? Maybe. But, there is no reason to panic. In fact, remaining calm and exiting the water without a lot of splashing will make you less likely to attract the shark’s attention. Simply leave the water as quickly as you can and never attempt to touch a shark. Want to capture the encounter on video to tweet to us later? Great! Keep your distance and let your camera’s zoom do all the work.

While it is unlikely you will encounter a shark on your vacation in Destin, Fort Walton Beach or Okaloosa Island, that doesn’t mean you won’t see some fantastic sea life during your stay. Be on the lookout for playful dolphins, hermit crabs, protected sea turtles and numerous fish.

Pack plenty of sunscreen and don’t forget the sand toys, but leave your concerns at home. Sharks might add an element of excitement to your vacation, but with vigilance and our safety tips, a scary encounter won’t be anything you need to worry about here on the Emerald Coast!