Shippensburg University professor recovering from shark bite
By MARCUS RAUHUT Staff writer
Back on the beach: Her arm in a sling, Kimberly Presser returned to the Florida shore... (Courtesy)
Math professor Kimberly Presser doesn't expect many students to notice the shark bite on her left arm when classes start next week at Shippensburg University.
The last of the 150 stitches were taken out Monday and she has full motion in her arm. She may have to undergo physical therapy, but she said for the most part the wound is healing very well.
Presser realizes it could have been much worse.
"I was very fortunate it missed my artery and my nerve," the Adams County resident said. "I'm fortunate it bit me, rather than my small children."
Earlier this month, Presser was visiting Florida with her husband, mother, two children and two nephews to see her brother, who is in the military, take part in a change of command ceremony.
On Aug. 2, she was swimming in chest-deep water off the coast near Jacksonville when she saw something about five feet away that looked like a large fish, swimming in an S-shape. When it wiggled its tail, she realized it was a shark.
"I raised my arm up defensively and it rammed right into me. I fell over, and when I stood up I started running," Presser said. "As soon as I got up, I realized I had been bitten when I saw blood."
Presser yelled to warn others and immediately ran to shore, where she was taken to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Lifeguards called swimmers out of the water.
She doesn't actually remember the feeling of being bitten, which doctors said was likely a result of the adrenaline from seeing the shark.
Shark attacks are actually very rare. Doctors at the Florida hospital where she was treated told her she was the first shark-bite victim the hospital had ever seen.
Shark attacks are even more rare in northern Florida where the incident happened, but experts said this could have been the result of unusually warm ocean waters -- which might also explain how another boy, coincidentally from Adams County, was bitten by a shark in Myrtle Beach, S.C., just two weeks before Presser.
The attack was also nothing like the movies -- no ominous fin sticking out of the water, the water was not murky, and it was mid-day.
Presser was told when sharks attack humans, it is likely a "hit-and-run," where sharks take a bite to taste something. A human is not as tasty to sharks as, say, a seal.
Shark researchers weren't able to determine what type of shark it was based on the data. Presser believes it was about 4 to 5 feet long, but researchers suspect it was probably larger.
At the time of the attack, her mother and oldest nephew, 15, were nearby after riding a wave, while the other three children were playing in the sand.
The incident happened on a Monday, and they went back into the water on Friday, in part to make sure she and the children do not develop a fear of swimming.
"I didn't want it to fester for another year. I wanted them to know there's nothing to be afraid of," she said. "I do think more about those impossible things, but I don't want the kids to be afraid. On the way to the beach, my 6-year-old asked if there are sharks. I said sharks don't like to bother other people."
After the experience, Presser said she has lost some degree of comfort, but she realizes shark attacks are rare and won't let the experience keep her out of the water altogether.
"I grew up in Southern California and I swam a lot in the ocean," she said. "It's not something I have to worry about every day. If you were in a car accident, you'd have to drive every day, but I don't have to worry about sharks. I'm OK." http://www.publicopiniononline.com/ci_1 ... st_emailed