ST. PETERSBURG — There were no real shark attacks in the Tampa Bay area in 2021, but there were 15 cinematic ones.
Season 2 of “Shark Attack Files” is now streaming on the National Geographic Channel.
The eight episodes seek to understand why unprovoked sharks sometimes attack people. The episodes feature reenactments of attacks.
Fifteen of the reenactments were filmed in Pinellas County in December.
Only one of those stories actually took place in Pinellas. In 2016, a Brandon woman had her leg bitten by a shark in St. Petersburg. She survived.
The other 14 stories occurred around the world but, with the help of Hollywood magic, reenactments were shot locally.
“As long as we have similar beaches, similar buildings and a similar climate, we can make this look like anywhere,” producer Brian Armstrong told the Tampa Bay Times from a downtown St. Petersburg set in December.
On that evening, Armstrong’s crew was filming a reenactment of a shark attack that occurred in Brisbane, Australia, when a woman out with friends fell off a walking bridge into shallow water. A shark bit her leg. She survived.
Real sharks were not used in the reenactments.
Sometimes, actors were asked to thrash around as though something was pulling them underwater.
Or, as was the case during a reenactment of another Australian attack, this one shot shot in Treasure Island, a crew member swam underwater while holding a shark fin above the water. That reenactment was of a surfer being bitten and surviving.
Another featured a Japanese fisherman from hundreds of years ago. Armstrong said it is believed to have been the earliest recorded shark attack.
Such productions are not new to Pinellas, county film commissioner Tony Armer said. “We have had some sort of shark attack reenactment shooting here for five or six years now for different projects because of our weather and because our area can double for different parts of the world. I’m happy no real shark attacks happen here.”
Since 1882, according to the Yearly World Shark Attack Summary from the International Shark Attack File, Pinellas has just nine confirmed unprovoked shark attacks. It does not list any for Hillsborough County.
Still, the file states that Florida tops the “global charts in the number of shark bites, and this trend continued in 2021. Florida’s 28 cases represent 60% of the U.S. total and 38% of unprovoked bites worldwide” with Volusia County representing 63% of the state’s total.
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Wendy Rosenoff and her partner Dave Emerson were among the local actors hired for a reenactment filmed in Madeira Beach.
Their shark attack story took place at a South African beach. Rosenoff portrayed a wife watching as her husband, played by Emerson, was pulled out to sea and killed by a shark.
Despite knowing she is more likely to “get into a crash on I-4 than be bitten by a shark” in the Tampa Bay area, Rosenoff said filming the episode and then watching the season has “given me pause. The sharks seem to be getting closer and closer to shore. I know it’s rare to be bitten, but I’m looking at the water a little closer now.”