Relentless shark attacks Deerfield Beach snorkeler
March 16 2002 ,Florida
A snorkeler hunting for sand dollars 300 yards off Deerfield Beach Friday morning became the prey of a 3-foot nurse shark.
Robert Land, 39, of Deerfield Beach, said he was swimming above a school of fish, when the shark lunged forward and clamped onto his left arm.
"I had to grab him and make my way up top to get more air," Land said.
He said he spent about five minutes struggling in the water, fighting with the shark while trying to breathe, when nearby boaters noticed his distress and came over to help.
"If they weren't there, I don't think you'd be talking to me right now," Land said Friday afternoon.
But even when he was safely on the boat's deck, Land was hardly out of harm's way. The persistent shark refused to release its grip, so the boaters slit its belly -- to no avail.
"It was trying to rip my arm. Scary," Land said.
With the shark still dangling from Land's arm, the boaters raced to the nearby docks at the Boca Raton Beach Club, 900 S. Ocean Blvd., where Boca Raton Fire-Rescue workers were waiting. There, paramedics pried the shark's jaws open with wood planks and pieces of metal, Land said. They gave Land nitrous oxide to ease the pain, but he said he never lost consciousness.
Land was taken to Boca Raton Community Hospital, where he was treated and released, said hospital spokeswoman Betsy Whisman.
He said his arm is riddled with teeth marks, and now his biggest concern is infection.
A Philadelphia transplant who has been snorkeling for 10 months, Land said he's not going to let a little shark bite keep him out of the water.
But he learned one important lesson: "They said I should always have a buddy with me."