SOUTH PADRE ISLAND
Surfer Bit by Shark on South Padre Island
April 12, 2005,
Reported by April Norris
Emergency crews rush a surfer to the hospital after a shark or another fish bites his left foot.
The 37 year-old man was surfing Thursday evening at Isla Blanca Park, near the park's pavilion. The man told Cameron County Parks Police a shark bit his foot.
Officers say he received stitches and is home recovering.
Island leaders say there hasn't been a shark attack on the Island in many years. But, local divers say if the opportunity is right, the sharks will strike.
Tim O'Leary runs American Diving, a diving school and store on the South Padre Island.
"The only thing out there that is going to bite except for small trigger fish and that's only around bait would be the shark, but again that's extremely rare. We would love to have more sharks around here so we could take our divers to see them, they love to see the sharks, but the sharks again shy away from people."
O'Leary also tapes documentaries on diving locally and internationally.
He and his co-workers are hoping their latest work will be picked up by the Discovery Channel. They taped sharks off of the Galapagos Island near Ecuador.
He says they have never seen sharks like those in the Gulf of Mexico.
"If we are on the scuba, sharks will tend to stay away from the bubbles, they don't like the noise. If we appear as if we're dying prey, then the shark becomes interested, otherwise it's very difficult to get close to sharks."
He says, although surfers can appear to be dying prey, surfers tend to slap around in the water and their silhouettes may resemble other fish, especially seals. But, O'Leary says sharks really don't like human meat.
"They'll test the human, some may bite, but as I said earlier you stand a better chance of being bitten by a pig than you would a shark in the ocean."
Another thing O'Leary says is there really aren't that many sharks out in the Gulf because people are over fishing them.
Long time fishermen tell Action 4 News people swimming in the Gulf shouldn't wear shiny bright jewelry because some sharks could mistake them for tiny fish.