While shark sightings are rather common in Florida waters, beachgoers in Boca Raton were alarmed Sunday when a woman walked out of the ocean with a baby shark attached to her forearm. The nurse shark had lodged its razor-sharp teeth into a meaty part of victim’s arm and refused to let go — even after it died.
Rescue workers soon transported the 23-year-old unidentified woman to a local hospital with the two-foot-long creature still latched onto her. As the reports indicate, there was little blood involved in the incident and the shark bite victim is expected to make full recovery.
“The shark wouldn't give up,” beachgoer Shlomo Jacob told the Sun Sentinel. “It was barely breathing but it wasn't letting go of her arm, like it was stuck to her or something.”
Apparently, the nurse shark, which is common off the coast of Florida, was provoked before the incident.
An 11-year-old witness, Nate Patrick, told the local media that the woman and her friends were “holding the shark by its tail” and “messing with it” before the animal lashed out.
“Sharks are the most humane thing ever,” he said, defending the creature. “So it wouldn't bite them if they hadn't been messing with it.”
Nurse sharks can grow up to 14 feet and have strong jaws along with thousands of tiny, but sharp, serrated teeth. Moreover, like most other animals, they bite defensively if humans step on or bother them.
“Knowingly or not, people swim near nurse sharks every day without incident,” stated the National Park Service brochure. “Attacks on humans are rare but not unknown and a clamping bite typically results from a diver or fisherman antagonizing the shark with hook, spear, net or hand. The bite reflex is such that it may be some minutes before a quietly re-immersed nurse shark will relax and release its tormentor. The small teeth seldom penetrate deeply but are razor sharp. Holding still reduces damage to both shark and man. Leaving sharks alone is the best tactic.”
Truth be told, the baby shark appears to the true victim in this incident. Although, hopefully, these images would serve as a warning for those who think disturbing animals in their natural habitat for the sake of fun — or a selfie — is a good idea.