Gainesville boy bitten by shark near Crescent Beach
The shark left six bite marks on the bottom of the 10-year-old's foot and three or four on the top.
By Cindy Swirko
Two weeks ago, 10-year-old Seth Shorten of Gainesville was watching the Discovery Channel's Shark Week programs on television. On Wednesday, he had an encounter similar to those portrayed in the shows.
Seth was bitten by a shark while playing in the Atlantic south of Crescent Beach about 9:30 a.m. and spent the night in Flagler Hospital for treatment of the wounds - one of which had a piece of a shark's tooth in it.
"It just came along and got him," said his father, Ken Shorten. "He knew exactly what had happened to him. As we were riding over in the (truck), we went over how it wasn't the shark's fault and it wasn't his fault. It's just one of those things that happen."
Seth, his father and brothers were at the beach vacationing in a relative's condo prior to the start of school next week. Mom Staci Shorten is away on a business trip.
The 4-foot-10 Seth was about waist deep when he was bitten on his right heel. Shorten said the bite was on the back of his ankle, as if it bit when Seth was lifting his right foot.
Shorten said Seth told him that he had been bitten and that they needed to get out of the water. He said the shark had a black head and was about three feet long.
"He was saying, 'Dad, get out of the water, get out of the water.' I looked over and could see the blood," Shorten said. "I went over scooped him up. We ran up and got the bleeding stopped and got ice on there and then got him to the emergency room."
They flagged down a St. Johns County sheriff's deputy along the way, who called emergency responders. After paramedics examined the wound, Shorten was given the OK to continue to the hospital.
The shark left six bite marks on the bottom of Seth's foot and three or four on the top.
"Where it got the flesh, you can actually see triangular marks. It's the weirdest thing in the world, like nothing else," Shorten said. "Amazingly, the only time he shed a tear was when they were doing the (intravenous). The nurse was like, 'this is an IV - you were bit by a shark, the IV can't be that bad.'"
Shorten said Wednesday evening that Seth will be in the hospital a few days to ensure that an infection does not start.
George Burgess, director of the University of Florida program for Shark Research and the International Shark Attack File, said common sharks off the North Florida Atlantic coast include blacktip, spinner, sharpnose and blacknose. Other types, including hammerheads, are there but less common.
Human movement can mimic that of a shark's typical food, Burgess said, particularly given waves, currents and other ocean conditions. Encounters between human and sharks are more common in the summer because more people are in the ocean.
Burgess said he may be able to identify the type of shark that bit Seth if he gets to examine the tooth fragment.
Ordinarily, a whole tooth would be "the smoking gun," Burgess said. "Sharks have to make quick decisions to get their next meal and sometimes those decisions are in error, so we get these kinds of situations."
Sharks usually make "hit and run attacks" - a quick grab and then release by the shark resulting in fairly minor damage to the person, Burgess said.
Shark bites in Florida waters are down this year - just eight so far. In 2007 and 2008, 32 attacks occurred in each year while 19 occurred last year, he added.
This is the second bite this year in St. Johns County, Burgess said. Only three have happened this year in Volusia County, which usually has between 15 and 25 and is called the shark attack capital.
Seth, who will soon be a sixth-grader at Norton Elementary, will have a good tale to tell.
"I told him to let all the other kids tell their stories about their summer and go last - you'll blow them all out of the water," Shorten said. "One of Seth's big things - he wasn't worried about anything -- but wanted to know when they get the tooth out, can we then find out what kind of shark it was. He's all curious about it."http://www.gainesville.com/article/2010 ... gall&tc=ar