Toddler Recovering After Bitten By Shark

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Can you imagine how frightening it must be to encounter a shark in water? An even scarier thought, is what if it were your child that encountered one?

This is exactly what happened to a family in Stuart this past weekend.

A 3-year-old girl in Stuart, Fla, has been hospitalized after she was bitten by a shark on Sunday afternoon, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said.

The incident happened at Bathtub Reef Beach around 1:19 p.m., according to Martin County Fire Rescue.

The girl was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center by helicopter with leg injuries, deputies said.

Jessica Marshall, a Stuart resident, and Mom of two, loves going to Bathtub Reef Beach, which is popular among children and families.

“I can’t imagine the horror,” she said. “Everyone’s worst fear is a shark bite.”

The beach is now shut down for the remainder of the day.

White shark populations on the West Coast had declined over several decades, but indication right now is that they’re beginning to rise again ever so slowly thanks to federal and state protection of the species,” International Shark Attack File (ISAF) director George Buress recently told Fox News.

There were 84 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks globally in 2016 – a dip from the 98 unprovoked attacks in 2015, ISAF’s website says.

56 of the attacks in 2016 were in the US alone – compared to 59 unprovoked attacks the year before.

The ISAF says the risk of being killed in a shark attack is one in 3,748,067, but there are things you can do to prevent such an event, and fight back if need be.

How do I prevent a shark from biting me?

There are a few things you can do.

University of Miami professor and marine ecologist Dr. Neil Hammerschlag says you should avoid swimming in areas with “an unusual amount of fish life,” where sharks may be searching for food.

You should avoid being in the water at nighttime, dawn, or dusk. “It appears that sharks may mistake people or bite people unintentionally,” he said to Fox News, explaining that it’s harder for them to discriminate when it’s dark out.

People should also avoid swimming alone, and stay in groups. “Sharks tend to target isolated prey,” Hammerschlag said.

What should you do if you see a shark?

Keep your distance – do not attempt to shoo, corner, or touch it. “Don’t act like shark food,” Hammerschlag advises. He says that if you encounter a shark, do not run away. You should also keep eye contact with the shark.

“Follow it around if it circles you, let it know that it sees you,” he said. When trying to get away, “keep facing the shark, but move backward slowly.”

What’s the best way to fight back if a shark is biting me?

Most sharks bite and release, Hammerschlag said. “In the unlikely event they don’t release,” he says that you should “fight back” and strike the shark’s gills, eyes and nose.

Hammerschlag also mentioned that shark bites are “really rare,” usually minor and do not require hospitalization.


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