Woman recalls her shark encounter
By TOM BAYLES
SIESTA KEY -- Janet Lynch was wading in waist-deep water off Crescent Beach when she saw it.
"I could see the head. I could see the teeth. It was like out of a movie," the 70-year-old said Friday. "And then all of a sudden in the ride of a wave I saw the shark. I screamed and I turned to run to the shore and that's when I felt it."
The shark bit down on Lynch's right leg below the knee, tugged for a split second, then let go and swam away.
Lynch's family, who heard her scream, helped her to the shore Wednesday, where bystanders kept her leg elevated while they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
The shark left a crescent-shaped, double- row-of-teeth wound on the Canadian grandmother's calf. A sizeable chunk of flesh near her ankle was missing.
Doctors at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where Lynch remained Friday, said her leg will need reconstructive plastic surgery.
Robert Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at Sarasota's Mote Marine Laboratory, met with Lynch and her family shortly after Wednesday's incident.
"It was a nasty bite, no question about it," Hueter said.
Nobody knows for sure what type of shark clamped down on Lynch's leg or exactly how big it was, but Hueter said it was mostly likely a blacktip about six feet long. A Sarasota County official said earlier that the fish was much smaller.
Hueter doesn't believe it was an attack. Rather, he said, the shark was probably feeding in the surf when it ran into Lynch. It clamped down on the woman's leg either to find out if she was food or simply because it was as startled as Lynch.
"Janet was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," Hueter said.
The last time anyone was bitten by a shark in Sarasota County's waters was in 1996, when a 63-year-old woman on Siesta Public Beach was nipped in the foot. That incident happened less than a mile from where Lynch was bitten. A blacktip was also suspected in that case.
According to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida, from 1882 to 2004 there were 500 confirmed shark bites in Florida, with 12 fatalities. Four of the non-fatal encounters were in Sarasota County.
Lynch, who said she had never seen the 1975 shark-attack movie "Jaws," said the whole thing seems surreal.
Family members said it may have scared her from ever returning to Crescent Beach, which she has described for years as her slice of paradise.