July 16, 2001 Posted: 12:09 PM EDT (1609 GMT)
PENSACOLA, Florida (CNN) -- A man is in good condition Monday after undergoing surgery for what he described as a shark bite that happened off Florida, just miles from where a young boy was nearly killed in a separate shark attack.
Michael Waters, 48, was surfing when he was bitten Sunday, he said. Waters is expected to be released later Monday, the hospital said.
Another man was treated and released, after being hurt in another shark encounter Sunday off Florida's east coast.
Waters said he was bitten in the waters off the coast of the Florida Panhandle, near Pensacola, about 2:30 p.m., just miles from where a shark bit off 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast's arm and tore into his leg, the Escambia County Sheriff's Office reported.
"From what the doctors say, it's consistent with a shark bite," Lt. Bob Clark of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office said Monday.
Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola could not confirm that it was a shark bite, until officials spoke to the doctors, hospital spokesman Mike Burke said. Waters had surgery on his foot and heel Sunday to repair blood vessels, Burke explained.
The Pensacola News-Journal quoted the man's daughter-in-law, Claressa Selva, 20, as saying the shark was drawn to shore by a shore fisherman who was throwing out bait in the swimming area.
Clark could not confirm that report, saying he believes the shark -- like many others -- was drawn to the area by pods of "bait fish" or smaller fish, feeding in the area.
Selva told the Pensacola News-Journal that the shark bit Waters' ankle and pulled him under the water.
"Thank God he knew how to react. He just started hitting the shark with his surfboard," she said. "We're all still in shock right now, it hasn't quite hit us. We saw everything that happened to that poor little boy, and we just never thought that was something that could happen to our family."
At the same time, an 18-year-old man using a boogie board off Fernandina Beach on Florida's east coast, near the Georgia state line, suffered "small-to-moderate lacerations" to his right foot when a shark swam past, said Capt. John Hailey, of Nassau County Fire Rescue.
"He said he saw an object about three feet long roll and splash, and then his foot started hurting," Hailey said. The man, whose name was not released, identified the object as a shark.
Officials believe the shark's mouth was open and the teeth dragged across the man's leg, Hailey said.
The 18-year-old, who was vacationing with his parents from Cincinnati, Ohio, was taken by ambulance to Shands-Jacksonville Hospital. A spokeswoman there said he was treated and released.
In Escambia County, Waters told authorities he was paddling his board about 100 yards from shore to catch a wave, his left leg dangling in the water. He said he saw a school of small fish and a "dark shadow" just before his ankle was bitten.
He paddled back to shore where he called out for help. He was then taken by ambulance to Sacred Heart Hospital.
Authorities estimated Sunday's incident happened about six to eight miles from the area Jessie was attacked. The boy was wading in knee-deep water at the Gulf Islands National Seashore on July 6 when he was mauled by a 7-foot bull shark, which tore off his arm and bit a large portion of his thigh.
Jessie was in critical but stable condition Sunday at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital after his arm was reattached at Baptist Hospital, also in Pensacola, a statement said.
Despite the proximity of the incidents, Clark said authorities had no plans to issue official warnings about sharks in the water.
"There are sharks all over, up and down the whole entire Gulf Coast," Clark said. "How do you warn someone that there are sharks out there all the time anyway?"
Clark said swimmers and surfers must be aware that sharks tend to swim in the waters, sometimes very close to shore.
He said Sunday's incident highlights some danger signs: The surfer was in murky water, and he was swimming near a school of bait fish, a primary source of food for sharks.
"If you do encounter that, it would be wise probably to swim elsewhere," Clark said. "Just be mindful of your and their environment."