Shark Attacks 2021: Young surfer bitten by shark during Hurricane Larry surf in New Smyrna Beach, Florida
In a rare sighting, two sharks can be seen rushing into the same wave with surfers a few feet away.
One of those surfers was Doyle Nielson, 16, in a blue shirt.
As he paddled to catch a wave while on vacation in Florida, one of the sharks swam behind him, biting his right arm.
“It was like someone on their surfboard had come full speed right at me and hit me really hard,” said Nielson. “And then after someone yelled, ‘there’s a shark, get out there’, I realized what it was.
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Luckily, the shark let go and Nielson reached shore safely, but the teenager ended up with a gnarled gash.
Sam Scribner, an avid surf photographer, recorded the spooky moments.
“Doyle was right in the middle of my frame and the shark just hit him,” Scribner said. “It was over in seconds too. It’s crazy how quickly it happened.”
It happened along Florida’s east coast at New Smyrna Beach, known as the unofficial shark bite capital of the world.
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With winds from Hurricane Larry promising strong waves, the beach was packed with surfers and sharks.
“You throw surfers in the middle of this surf and you’re going to have an unholy mix that almost inevitably results in a bite,” said George Burgess of the University of Florida Shark Research Program.
Experts said this is typical shark behavior, but if you go into the ocean you have to assume that there are sharks too.
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“I will definitely be surfing again, but I know it will affect my state of mind. For example, I will be a little more careful in the water,” said Nielson.
Shark bites like Nielson’s are extremely rare, but last month another Sunshine State teenager was bitten by a bulldog shark while fishing for lobster with his family.
“I looked in the water and everything I saw was red. I didn’t even see my leg. I couldn’t see anything,” said Lucas Cruz, 15.
His injuries were so severe, with lacerations to both legs, tissue and muscle damage, and a severed Achilles tendon. Cruz had to be transported by plane to a hospital where he spent 11 days.
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After numerous reconstructive surgeries, he is now recovering at home and using a wheelchair and a walker to get around.
“His injuries are healed. His prognosis is excellent and I anticipate a very quick and excellent recovery for him,” said Haaris Mir, medical director of the US Burn Repair and Reconstruction Centers at Kendall Regional Medical Center.
It is important to put in context the rarity of shark bites. The county of Florida where Nielson was surfing and biting an average of nine bites per year, which seems high but, remember, there are millions of people in the water every year. However, if you are going to go out into the water, always stay alert.
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