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A teenager was seriously hurt after falling victim to a shark in Florida on Thursday, law enforcement authorities said.
The incident took place at Keaton Beach when the girl was looking for scallops near Grassy Island in water approximately five feet deep, WTSP reported Friday.
In a social media post on Thursday, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office detailed the incident and issued safety advice:
The juvenile was bit by an undetermined type of shark, described as approximately nine feet long. A family member reportedly jumped in the water and beat the shark until the juvenile was free. The juvenile was airlifted to a Tallahassee hospital with serious injuries.
Swimmers and scallopers are cautioned to be alert, vigilant, and practice shark safety. Some rules to follow are: never swim alone, do not enter the water near fishermen, avoid areas such as sandbars (where sharks like to congregate), do not swim near large schools of fish, and avoid erratic movements while in the water.
Social media users expressed their concern for the victim, one person writing, “Praying for her and her family. This breaks my heart. I have scalloping this area for 23 years, could of been anyone.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with this young lady,” another person commented.
Sharks usually swim inshore and north during the spring and summer seasons, then offshore and to the south in the fall and winter, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:
This pattern explains why shark activity is at its peak in Florida waters during April through October, which coincidentally, is also the time period that humans are more likely to be in the water. Yet shark attacks still remain very rare. Humans are 30 times more likely to be struck by lightning in Florida than to be bitten by a shark. Experts agree that the increase in the number of shark attacks in recent years is more related to an increase in human visitors than to an increase in shark populations or activity.
In late June, a man swimming off the coast of California was seriously injured during a shark attack at Lovers Point Beach in Pacific Grove.
Three people heard the person crying out and rushed to his aid, then helped him back to shore before emergency crews arrived at the scene.