Shark Attack at Deerfield Beach Florida
Surfer bitten by shark gets 50 stitches, says he'll have 'pretty sweet scar'
The day after receiving 50 stitches to sew up a shark bite in his left foot, 21-year-old surfer Peter Kirn said he'll have a "pretty sweet scar" to show for it.
Kirn recounted his shark encounter at a Tuesday afternoon press conference at Broward Health North, where he was rushed by ambulance with a bloody, throbbing foot.
He and a buddy were surfing near the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier Monday afternoon when a 5-foot spinner shark chomped his foot, Kirn said.
"I was just minding my business surfing," said Kirn, of Deerfield Beach. "I felt something just clamp my foot. I turned around and I saw a spinner shark going crazy."
He was about 50 yards from shore, a bit north of the pier when the shark, a fast-swimming, shallow-water-dwelling species, attacked.
After taking its bite, the shark swirled up and out of the water, Kirn fell off of his board, and that was the last he saw of the toothy predator. Kirn said he and his buddy looked at each other wide-eyed and he exclaimed: "Dude, I just got bit."
Peter Kirn, 21, was bitten by a 5-foot spinner shark while surfing near the Deerfield Beach Fishing Pier Monday afternoon. (Susan Stocker / Sun Sentinel)
It wasn't until after Kirn paddled and belly-rode a wave to shore that he realized how severe his injury was. "I could just feel it pulsing, and I saw gushing blood," he said.
Rushing on adrenaline, Kirn said he sprinted to the nearest lifeguard who cleansed the wound with peroxide and bandaged it with gauze. Paramedics took Kirn to the hospital where he remains in good condition. His release date has not yet been determined.
Dr. Nigel Sosan, the emergency room physician who treated Kirn, said it could've been worse.
"He had multiple ragged and overlapping wounds on his foot," Sosan said. "Lucky for him, it didn't get down to the bone."
Surfer Peter Kirn, 21, recovers after he was bitten by a shark off Deerfield Beach on Oct. 19, 2015.
Schools of baitfish have been plentiful in the water lately and with them come spinner sharks, Kirn said. "I've seen them all the time."
Spinner sharks, named so because of their tendency to erupt from the water in twirling leaps while feeding, are generally not a threat to humans but can become belligerent when excited by food.
"Spinners typically are non-aggressive with humans but they get aggressive with bait fish," said Evan Boyar, the hospital's medical director of emergency services. "They do like shallow waters."
Recognizable by the black tips on their dorsal fins, spinner sharks prefer tropical, warm, temperate waters. They can be found in the west Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina down to Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, Brazil and up into the north Gulf of Mexico. They also swim the waters of Australia, the Indian Ocean and central western portions of the Pacific Ocean.
A lifelong surfer, Kirn said his father taught him how to ride as soon as he knew how to swim.
And like nearly all surfers who have experienced shark bites, Kirn said his love of wave riding trumps any fears of the prehistoric carnivores and he'll soon be paddling back into the lineup.
"I might think about it, but I like to surf, so I can't let something like this bother me," said Kirn, who works in the kitchen at the Delray Beach Club. "It was really fast. One big bite. It was crazy."