Possible shark bite, jellyfish, stingray stings reported in Grand Strand
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Local law enforcement, experts, and doctors warn people to pay attention to what else may be swimming in the water with them after a potential shark bite.
According to police, they responded to 1st Avenue North in Surfside after a woman was attacked by something in the water a little after 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.
Lt. Kenneth Hofmann with the Surfside Beach Police Department says they could not confirm that it was a shark bite, but witnesses that helped the woman out of the water were quite certain.
"I ran into the water and she said, ‘I got bit by a shark. I got bit by a shark!'" Lt. Hofmann said.
Peter Cavo and his family were at the beach during the attack. His sister, Pat Kari, explains the injury was serious.
"And he said blood was all around, and he was calling for people to help him, and some nurse finally came and helped him drag her in. He said the whole back where her Achilles tendon is was gone," Cavo said.
Lt. Hofmann said the woman reportedly kicked back and felt something but could not see what that something was.
Hofmann explained they are sure it is a bite and not a sting from a jelly fish or sting ray.
"We do know that it was a bite that she sustained to her heel," he said. "She stated that when she felt the bite she kicked back and knew that there was something there that she kicked but she wasn't able to see what it was."
Local expert Stacia White, from Ripley's Aquarium, said this sounds like a "bump and bite," and is typical behavior of a shark.
White explained sharks swim blindly. They do not have the ability to feel what they swim into.
"So they'll just do a little test bite and as soon as they bite they'll realize, ‘That's not a fish - that's not what I want to eat,' and they'll let go and swim away," She said.
White said to look out for stingrays as well, and those stings can hurt even more than a shark bite.
Cornell Caviness, a Physician Assistant with Doctors Care in Surfside, explains they see jellyfish wounds daily, but have recently treated a stingray injury.
"I can only sympathize with him, because this guy was really hurting because of the sting," Caviness said.
Lt. Hofmann said there have also been 40 to 60 jelly fish stings at each life guard station daily, and beach patrol has stocked up on what's needed to treat those stings.
White says as difficult as it may be, try to stay calm if you see a shark, because they can sense fear.
As for rip currents and other beach safety tips, Caviness says to keep an eye on small children and report any jelly fish, dead or alive, to life guards.