Florida beach reopens after rare, double shark attack

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(Reuters) – Surfers warily returned to the waters off Fernandina Beach in northern Florida on Saturday after what appeared to be a rare, double shark attack the previous day.

Fernandina Beach Fire Department got a call late Friday afternoon that a 30-year-old man was bitten by a shark. Three minutes later it got a second call that a 17-year-old had been bitten just over a mile south down the beach, according to a statement by the city of Fernandina Beach.

The beach was immediately closed but reopened on Saturday, with ocean rescue services watching the waters for “dangerous marine life.”

Shark attacks are common in Florida, with dozens reported in the state each year, but they usually happen in waters off southern Atlantic beaches and are rare in the state’s northernmost county, where Fernandina Beach is located.

The city’s police department said in a statement that Dustin Theobald, 30, received several lacerations and puncture wounds to his right foot from the bite. The 17-year-old, who was not identified, received puncture wounds to his foot, the fire department said.

Both were in stable condition, with non-life-threatening injuries, the city said.

Theobald told a local television news station he was watching his 8-year-old surf when he saw what he believed to be a nurse shark or a black tip shark and kicked it to try to make it go away.

“I was in 2 feet (61 cm) of water, or less, lying on my stomach, watching him just playing in the surf and I felt something grab onto my foot and pull,” Theobald told News4Jax from a hospital bed. “I reached down for my foot. I put my hand on his head – he was probably 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 meters) – and when I did that, he shook twice and when I did that he released and left.”

The teenager was bitten while wading in shallow water. It was not clear whether one or two sharks were involved in the incidents.

(The story was refiled to delete the extraneous words “male or female” in paragraph 5)

Reporting by Andrew Hay; editing by Jonathan Oatis



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