Hospital says shark caused bite at beach
By Sandra Pedicini | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted June 13, 2002
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Chalk up another one for the shark-bite capital of the world.
An injury that lifeguards initially reported as a likely bluefish bite has turned out to be Volusia County's fifth shark bite this year.
Lifeguards initially said the bite pattern on Craig Taylor's right foot Sunday morning could have been left by a bluefish.
But officials from Bert Fish Memorial Hospital said Wednesday there's no doubt the injury was a shark bite.
Taylor, 50, of Orlando, said he was surprised to hear lifeguards thought he had been bitten by a bluefish.
"I thought it was kind of laughable they thought it could be a bluefish," said Taylor, who is recovering at home.
When bluefish bite, they generally leave a U-shaped mark about 3 inches long. Taylor said his bite was about 6 inches long, stretching from his toes to his ankle, with what he described as "classic double row of gashes and deep cuts."
Taylor was about 75 feet from the shore at 10:30 a.m. Sunday when he felt a sensation that he described as dull and sharp at the same time. He saw something swimming away, though he couldn't identify it.
He swam into shore and asked lifeguards for help. He was taken to Bert Fish Medical Center, where he was treated and given a survey several pages long to fill out for the International Shark Attack File, which keeps official tallies on bites.
"His diagnosis was shark bite," hospital spokeswoman Cathy Vaughn said. "It was minor."
The Beach Patrol previously has downplayed shark attacks, preferring to call less serious bites "nips" and suggesting that swimmers' bites were inflicted by bluefish.
"We're not experts on bites," Beach Patrol Capt. Rob Horster said Wednesday. "I bandage them up and ship them off."
Volusia County also hands out fliers to beachgoers who are afraid to get into the water, blaming the perception that it might be dangerous on sensational news coverage and offering various facts about sharks.
The fliers were intended to counter news reports centering on Volusia County's 22 reports of shark bites last year, making it place with the most recorded shark bites in the world.
Volusia County will be represented at a shark conference today and Friday in Tampa, with Deputy Beach Patrol Chief Joe Wooden scheduled to give a presentation. The conference will focus on shark population trends and media coverage of attacks.
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