A shark statue decorated by artist Eliza Midgett stands outside the Brannon Center at 105 S. Riverside Drive in New Smyrna Beach.

If you're going to be the shark bite capital of the world, then you might as well embrace it.

Five decorative shark statues painted by local artists have been installed at various venues throughout New Smyrna Beach as part of a public art project spearheaded by the city’s Youth Council Task Force.

Made up of five New Smyrna Beach High School students, the task force first presented the idea to city commissioners on May 14, 2019, before it was put on pause by the Covid-19 pandemic and meeting restrictions that came along with it.

“It has been an incredibly rewarding experience watching this project come to fruition by the hard work and dedication of the Youth Council Task Force members,” said City Clerk Kelly McQuillen, who has served as staff liaison to the council throughout the project’s life cycle. “Seeing the shark statues around town will now not only be a fun addition to the culture of our community and help put our title of Shark Bite Capital of the World in a positive light, but also serve as a reminder that perseverance pays off.”

Measuring seven feet long, two feet tall, and one foot wide, the shark statues were crafted by Rick Hardy, a shark taxidermist with Unique Species Inc., and painted by five artists selected by the council and listed with their work’s locations below.

•Alonzo “Babe” James Community Center, 201 N. Myrtle Ave., artist Randal Preston

•Brannon Center, 105 S. Riverside Drive, artist Eliza Midgett

•City Marina, 201 N. Riverside Drive, artist Cathy Berse

•Development Services Building, 214 Sams Ave., artist Margo Wenzel

• Live Oak Cultural Center, 1050 Live Oak St., artist Shyriaka Morris

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