Florida town reopens beaches after 2 apparent shark attacks
The town of Fernandina Beach, Florida, reopened its beaches to swimmers Saturday, a day after two people were injured minutes apart in “alleged shark bite incidents,” the city government said.
“The waters are back open this morning. Ocean Rescue will remain on high alert and will continue monitoring the water,” the city said on its Twitter page Saturday — which just happened to be Shark Awareness Day.
The city fire department said it received a report of the first incident at 3:35 p.m. ET Friday. Three minutes later, while attending to the first victim, the department received a report of a second biting incident. The city then closed the beaches to swimmers.
The city didn’t provide details about the victims but CNN affiliate WJXT said a 30-year-old man was bitten on the foot and a 17-year-old boy was bitten, also on the foot, five minutes later about a mile away.
“Both patients are reportedly stable, with non-life-threatening injuries,” the city fire department said in a news release. “Neither patient could advise what type or size of marine life had caused their respective injuries.”
WJXT interviewed the first bite victim, identified as Dustin Theobald of Fernandina Beach, at Baptist Medical Center Nassau, where he was recovering.
“I was in 2 feet of water or less, laying on my stomach watching (my 8-year-old son) just playing in the surf and I felt something grab onto my foot and pull,” he said.
“I reached down for my foot. I put my hand on his head — he was probably 4 to 5 feet (long) — and when I did that, he shook twice and when I did that he released and left.”
Theobold told the TV station he might have tendon damage and has 4-inch lacerations on the top and bottom of his foot.
WJXT, citing the Fernandina Beach Fire Department, said the 17-year-old was taken to a Jacksonville hospital with puncture wounds on the foot. He didn’t see what bit him, WJXT said.
Fernandina Beach, Florida’s northernmost municipality, is on Amelia Island on the Atlantic coast.