What's buzzing:

Recife works to warn World Cup visitors of sharks

AP - Sports

RECIFE, Brazil (AP) -- Newlywed Akiko Ishihama let out a nervous laugh when asked if she realized that she was honeymooning on a beach well known for deadly shark attacks.

''Not at all,'' she answered as she gazed at the aquamarine water lapping up against the inviting stretch of sand called Boa Viagem Praia. ''Maybe I'll stay on the beach and get suntanned.''

Ishihama, 28, and her husband, Makoto, 32, kicked off their honeymoon by attending Saturday's World Cup match between Japan and Ivory Coast in nearby Arena Pernambuco. They are among tens of thousands of visitors from around the globe descending on this city in northeastern Brazil to see one of five matches.

The popular, sun-bleached Boa Viagem beach - which translates to safe journey beach - lies only a few miles south of Recife's city center. Less than a year ago, a woman was killed by a shark here, one of 24 deadly attacks around Recife since 1992.

Brazilians know the dangers, but government officials have stepped up efforts to warn tourists, erecting signs in English and Spanish with the words ''Danger,'' and ''Peligro,'' fire department spokesman Valdy Oliveira said.

The department has increased from 50 to 70 the number lifeguards patrolling the beaches near hotels, Oliveira said.

''We reinforced our safety protocol near hotels because of these shark attacks,'' he said. ''We have specially done it in places where water is murky.''

Yet not everyone notices the signs, and service industry workers can't effectively warn tourists - most of whom don't speak Portuguese or Spanish.

Ishihama said she and her husband probably would have entered the water unaware of the beach's reputation for shark attacks. No one had said a word to them about sharks - at least, not that they understood.

''There's only one guy working at our hotel who speaks English,'' Ishihama said.

Several lifeguards sit together under a tent almost directly in front of the spot where the last attack took place. Another, riding a personal watercraft, lurches over the breakers as he takes a path parallel to the beach as if to shepherd swimmers close to shore.

Large warning signs have been placed along a sidewalk separating a tree-lined sea wall from a bustling three-lane boulevard fronting a seemingly endless wall of high-rises. At the center of each sign is a sleek silhouette of a shark with the words ''danger,'' or ''caution,'' written in red and blue lettering in both Portuguese and English. Similar posters have been affixed to octagonal refreshment huts atop the seawall. Planted in the sand near the water are a string of red flags emblazoned in yellow with the word ''Perigo,'' Portuguese for danger.

Some tourists' eyes widen as they notice the shark symbol while approaching the huts.

According to the state's Shark Incident Monitoring Committee, 59 people have been attacked by sharks in or near Recife since 1992. Only 11 months ago, 18-year-old Bruna Gobbi of Sao Paulo died after a shark attack at Boa Viagem.

That hasn't stopped sunbathers and kids kicking soccer balls from flocking to the beach. But it doesn't take long to see that most don't venture beyond the distinctive reef walls - from which the city gets it Portuguese name. The reef is submerged during high tide, but still protects swimmers from sharks, so long as they stay close to shore.

As he monitored the chairs and umbrellas he's been renting on the beach for nearly three decades, David Jose de Lima, 50, pointed to the spot where last July's attack took place. Video of the attack shows several lifeguards rushing to the young woman's aid as she struggled to keep her head above water and her blood formed a red streak on the water around her.

De Lima considers it part of his job to tell everyone new to the beach about the dangers and always issues a warning for swimmers not to cross the reef. But he speaks just enough English to do business. And not everyone heeds his warnings.

''It's dangerous because a lot of people drink, and drink, and they don't know, or some guys think they're a big man, and they go on the other side,'' he said.

---

Associated Press Writer Adriana Gomez contributed to this report from Sao Paulo.

View Comments (1)
  • Wondolowski nets 100th as 'Quakes draw

    Wondolowski nets 100th as 'Quakes draw

    Chris Wondolowski became the ninth MLS player to reach 100 goals, helping the San Jose Earthquakes salvage a 1-1 draw with 10-man Orlando City on Sunday night. Wondoloski scored on a penalty kick in the 68th minute, tying it for the Earthquakes … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 20 minutes ago
  • European roundup: Hamburg safe for now, Hull go down

    European roundup: Hamburg safe for now, Hull go down

    Hamburg SV avoided a first Bundesliga drop but must go through the torment again in a relegation playoff while Hull City were the fall guys in England. ENGLAND Hull City were relegated from the Premier League after two years in the top flight … More »

    Reuters - 2 hours 9 minutes ago
  • Union upset Red Bulls at home, Wondolowski joins century club

    (Reuters) - The Philadelphia Union upset the New York Red Bulls with a 2-0 victory on Sunday, their first win at their rivals in the five years since their inception. The Eastern Conference rivals were scoreless until the 57th minute when Union … More »

    Reuters - 2 hours 33 minutes ago
  • Gerrard and Lampard bid farewell with goals

    Gerrard and Lampard bid farewell with goals

    Steven Gerrard disconsolately trudged off an English Premier League pitch for the final time after his beloved Liverpool were battered 6-1 at Stoke City, their worst top-flight defeat since 1963. At least the 34-year-old, who leaves for Los Angeles … More »

    Reuters - 2 hours 40 minutes ago
  • Celebrating Drogba challenges 'new Chelsea' to emulate him

    Celebrating Drogba challenges 'new Chelsea' to emulate him

    By Clare Lovell LONDON (Reuters) - The departing Didier Drogba threw down the gauntlet to the young Chelsea squad on Sunday as he led Premier League celebrations at Stamford Bridge, telling them they had to win more titles to stand comparison with … More »

    Reuters - 2 hours 57 minutes ago