Two surfers injured in shark attacks at Sebastian Inlet on Florida's east coast
SEBASTIAN INLET, Fla. - The Discovery Channel observed Shark Week in August, but two surfers said this has been the week the underwater predator has declared as its own.
Brandon Murray, 22, of West Palm Beach, said he was bitten on his left foot Monday afternoon in Brevard County just a few miles north of Sebastian Inlet State Park. The next day in the same area, Brandon Taylor, 21, of the Vero Lake Estates community in Indian River County, said he had paddled into the water for less than a minute before he felt a bite on his left arm shortly after 5 p.m.
"We'd been joking for a while that we could get bit anytime," said Taylor's friend, Nick Hopkins, 27, of Sebastian, who was surfing with him Tuesday when the attack happened. "My girlfriend would tell us to say hello to the sharks when we left."
Taylor, who has been surfing since he was 4 years old, said he and Hopkins had entered the ocean at Whitey's Fishing Outfitters in Brevard County. That's close to the Spanish House, where Murray said he was bitten Monday.
Taylor said the shark, which he
didn't see, swam underneath him before the bite.
"I heard Brandon call out and then he shouted, 'It happened!'" Hopkins said.
Taylor said Hopkins gave him the leash from his surfboard and he tied it around his arm to suppress the bleeding. They got into a car and drove to the Fire Rescue station on the Wabasso Causeway.
"My arm was covered in blood," Taylor said. "I grabbed a towel when we got to the car and wrapped it around my arm. Good thing it's a red towel."
Paramedics cleaned the wound and took him to Sebastian River Medical Center, said Indian River County Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Brian Burkeen. Medical staff sewed 14 stitches on the top of the bite and four at the bottom, Taylor said. He went home Tuesday night to his wife of one year, Katelyn Taylor, and their 20-month-old son, Owen Taylor.
"I'm making (Owen) his own surfboard, but the grandmothers don't want him to surf," Taylor said.
Florida State Parks spokeswoman Jennifer Diaz said her agency was notified about Tuesday's incident by the Indian River County Sheriff's Office. Lifeguards and rangers at the Sebastian Inlet State Park have not had any shark sightings in several weeks, and there's been no attacks in the water within the park in at least five years, Diaz said.
However, local fishermen told inlet staff that bait season is under way and is attracting predators, Diaz said.
After suffering his bite Monday, Murray said he researched sharks. He speculated the one that bit him was a spinner shark and may have been attracted by his red, yellow and orange trunks.
"People need to know that sharks are out there and not to wear bright clothing if they're in the water," he said.
Murray was treated at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach and released Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said. Murray lost his left little toe and described his remaining ones as mangled. He'll be on crutches as his foot heals through 40 stitches, he said.
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