Jensen Beach surfer gets 12 stitches after shark bite off Bathtub Beach
Cole Taschman knew right away why his right hand hurt. All the proof he needed was in front of him in the waters off Bathtub Beach.
“I was about waist-deep in the water getting ready to go out surfing,” said Taschman, 16, a junior at Jensen Beach High School. “All of a sudden, it felt like you got hit playing football or something. I looked at my hand to make sure that everything was intact still.
“I knew it happened initially because I saw the shark.”
Taschman described the shark as a blacktip reef shark between 4 and 5 feet long. His encounter landed him at Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart, where he received 12 stitches. It was also the latest involving sharks and swimmers off Treasure Coast beaches during the past year.
In late December, the waters off Jensen Beach were closed for a week after a suspected shark bite. Last June, lifeguards temporarily closed the waters off Bathtub Beach after man suffered a minor bite by what was suspected to be a shark. Other shark sightings have been reported near Vero Beach.
Taschman — who surfs for the Stuart-based Ohana Surf Shop team — said he struck the shark with his surf board to prevent it from attacking again, then ran out of the water to seek help.
He was in the water to get pictures for a fundraiser for an injured friend — Brooke Thabit, another Jensen Beach High School student and Ohana Surf Shop surfer who broke her neck in an accident last fall. He was wearing a T-shirt to promote her cause.
“We were trying to take pictures to raise some money for her,” Taschman said. “I’m more worried her than anyone because that was my whole goal in surfing that day.”
Taschman insisted Monday night he was fine despite the initial scare.
“I’ve got a hard cast around my wrist,” Taschman said. “I have 12 stitches in me… and a good story I can tell for college.”