I was recently asked where I believe the absolute best place to go on vacation in the United States is, and before I could answer, a person near me said, “Florida, no question.”
After rattling off all of the beaches and theme parks that are available, this person gave us the the “palms-up, shoulder-shrug, eye-brow raise” to indicate that this really was a no brainer answer.
When I said that I thought Hawaii was a better spot, this person responded with a shocked, “And get eaten by a shark?!”
It sounded true.
Hawaii has a lot of sharks; according to the International Shark Attack Files at the University of Florida, Hawaii has had 101 unprovoked shark attacks since 1670. Eight of these were fatal. That’s one fatal shark attack every 42 years.
As a well documented shark avoider, I decided to look into the number of shark attacks in Florida. The numbers were astounding: 637 attacks since 1882. This made me wonder if anybody knew how dangerous a place Florida is?
Which brings me to these not-quite-middle-school-level research findings on the dangers of traveling to America’s “most dangerous tourist location.”
The alligator is an even more disturbing creature than the shark, because you can pretty much guarantee to never be eaten by a shark if you don’t go in the ocean. This is not true with gators. For those of you unfamiliar with broad and unscientific zoological generalizations, an alligator is essentially a miniature dinosaur who:
Excels at hiding,
Grabbing you from the land,
Dragging you into the water,
Then feeding you to its children.
In Florida you don’t even have to be near a swamp to be attacked by an alligator. You can be innocently enjoying a leisurely afternoon on the golf course, eating a taco near a manhole, or simply opening your front door to be confronted by one of these fearsome reptiles.
You might be thinking, “Jon my elderly relatives live in Florida, surely we wouldn’t be encouraging them to move to a state filled with swamps, canals, and wading pools if alligators were plentiful.” I’ve got bad news for you, according to Dr. Rick Langley of the department of Health and Human Services there is one alligator for every 12.5 humans in the Sunshine State. Florida features an estimated 17,000 gator-related emergency calls per year, 6,000 of which require removal and relocation. This equals 46 calls and 16 removals per day.
The statistics indicate that Alligators wreak infinitely more destruction on Floridians in 1 week than Godzilla (an alleged gator relation) brought to Tokyo in the 1950′s. I can only assume that the President of our country has not followed Japan’s “monster defense protocols” and ordered a military strike against these creatures because the state legislature aggressively protects them.
It seems that only an “act of God” will stem the tide. Which brings me to my next point:
Since we began keeping records in 1851 there have only been 18 years that Florida has not suffered a serious summer hurricane. In fact, Florida suffered 450 BILLION DOLLARS in hurricane damages in just the 20th century. Since the mid 19th century, hurricanes have caused the death of 10,272 people in the region. This means that from June to October, the prime dinner months for gators and sharks, more people have been murdered by Florida’s weather than it’s ferocious animal population.
While it’s true that Florida receives more hurricanes than any other state in the U.S., it also appears that the population of Florida enjoys hurricanes more than other populations in the U.S. because people keep choosing to live there. Which brings me to my final point:
While I believe I have done a good job pointing out the inherent natural dangers of Florida (in as systematic and melodramatic a fashion is possible), I would also like to point out that the people of Florida have proudly adopted both the Hurricane and the Gator as mascots for their institutions of higher learning. Every year thousands of 18 year-olds, many of whom have been menaced by Florida’s natural enemies as children, flock to the University of Florida and the University of Miami to be brainwashed into cheering on the very monsters that seek to consume them.
How strange and impractical is this?
We all know how bizarre California is, but even they aren’t crazy enough to have the University of Southern California and The University of California Los Angeles name their college teams the “Crips” and the “Earthquakes”.
Disneyworld sounds fun, but Florida is dangerous and it wants to kill you.
P.S. I intentionally left out the Jaguars, spiders, snakes, and wild swamp monkeys… because children might be reading this.