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1988/08/13 John P. Martin - Florida - ***Fatal***

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1988/08/13 John P. Martin - Florida - ***Fatal***

Post by sharkbait »

Shark kills PCB man

appeal.Shark kills PCB man

Staff writer

A Panama City Beach man was killed and a Georgia couple slightly injured Tuesday afternoon in separate shark attacks offshore St. Andrews State Recreational Area.

John P. Martin, 38, was killed at about 2:15 p.m. near the east jetty at the park, according to a Florida Marine Patrol press release.

About 35 minutes later near the west jetty, the Georgia couple were attacked by a 5- to 6-foot-long shark. Dennis Hadden, 42, and his wife, Ann Hadden, 41, received puncture wounds and abrasions to their hands in the attack. They were treated and released from Bay Medical Center Tuesday night.

Immediately after the attacks, an FMP plane, Panama City Beach police, Bay County sheriff's deputies and state park rangers warned swimmers along the shore of the shark attacks and to stay out of the water. Beachgoers also are warned to stay out of the water today.

Authorities were unsure Tuesday night whether the same shark was responsible for both attacks, as well as what kind of shark was responsible.


The shark attacked Martin while he was swimming in 8 feet of water about 100 yards from the east jetty on the Gulf of Mexico side of Shell Island, according to FMP. Witnesses said the shark, which was estimated between 6 and 10 feet long, attacked Martin three times before leaving the area, the release said.

A man in a pleasure boat attempted to assist Martin, but was unsuccessful, said FMP officer Jerry Shores. The man then telephoned the FMP and Coast Guard, which retrieved the body, Shores said.

Skipper Lark, who said he witnessed through binoculars the retrieval of Martin's body, was critical of the time it took the Coast Guard personnel to get Martin from the water. Lark said a Coast Guard boat pulled up alongside where the body ``was bobbing in the surf.'' But he said it was five to seven minutes before a Coast Guardsman and another person pulled the body out of the surf, after Lark ``hollered at them'' to do something.

Medical Examiner William Sybers said Martin's death was caused by drowning, but that Martin apparently had been pulled under water by a shark. Sybers said Martin had wounds on his lower right leg and right thigh, as well as bites on his hands. Those bites were ``almost defensive-type'' wounds Martin received in trying to fend off the shark, Sybers said.

Sybers said the width of the shark's bite measured 14 inches.


The Haddens said they were attacked by a 6-foot-long shark and received minor injuries before escaping to shore.

Dennis and Ann Hadden were on a snorkeling outing at Shell Island with 10 other people when the shark attacked them. Witnesses said the victims had been part of a snorkeling expedition on board the Captain Scuba II.

The couple, from McDonough, Ga., were wading onto Shell Island's beach in about 4 to 4{ feet of water when Dennis Hadden felt something brush past his legs.

``It didn't bother me when it came by,'' Dennis Hadden said. ``She (his wife) was scared. I kept saying it was just a dolphin.''

He said the shark then circled his wife, who was a few feet in front of him.

``The first time I knew it was a shark was when it came out and grabbed her forearm,'' he said. ``It wasn't like a fast attack. It was slow. It just eased out of the water and clamped down.''

When he saw the shark bite his wife's arm, Dennis Hadden kicked out at it. ``I just saw it bite and my first thing was to kick it. It let go of her and I was able to step between the two,'' he said. ``I hit it and kicked it several times. The top of it is just like rough sandpaper.''

Dennis Hadden said he kept punching the shark as he and his wife backed toward the shore.

``When the waves broke, it broke off. It swam over to our left,'' he said. ``I didn't whip the shark, it just went.''

After the shark broke off its attack, the couple got up on shore and were taken back to their snorkling boat before being transported to the state park by the Coast Guard, he said.

The shark may have been involved in a third attack after leaving the Haddens, according to Mike Brim, a U.S Fish and Wildlife marine biologist who arrived at Shell Island shortly after the second attack.

Brim spoke with a witness, who said ``a guy was sitting on the edge of some boat. It (the shark) grabbed his swim fin and bit it.'' Witnesses said the shark was dark in color and appeared to be between 6 and 8 feet long.

The last known shark attack in the waters off Bay County occurred near the state park jetties in the mid-1970s, Brim said, when a child was bitten on the arm.

The only known fatality occurred in the early 1960s, when a diver was attacked about eight miles off shore, Brim said.


Despite the last recorded shark attack being more than 10 years ago, a local surfer said Tuesday that there have been several shark sightings along the beaches in the last week.

Mark Santoli, of Panama City Beach, said that a friend and another surfer had been ``bumped'' by a shark last weekend when the waves were up.

``The shark, before it attacks, bumps (its victim) to see how big and strong it is,'' Santoli said. ``They said the shark that was doing it was about 8 feet long.

``I wish they'd go ahead and blow it out of the water.'' Santoli said.

John Jones, of Galvez, La., was in the park when Martin's body and the Haddens arrived at the dock. He watched as the body and the two injured people were taken from boats.

``My reaction was, I was thinking about the movie Jaws -- just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,'' Jones said.

But Jones said he likely will go swimming during the remaining one or two days he is in Panama City Beach.

``We don't go out very far,'' he said.

``I don't know,'' he added, laughing, ``I hear they haven't had a (fatal) shark attack out here for 30 years. So we can probably swim another 30 years, don't you think so?''

(Staff Writer Mark Horvit contributed to this report.)
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Post by sharkbait »

Water Conditions Possible Factor in First Fatal Attack in 20 Years

said.Water Conditions Possible Factor in First Fatal Attack in 20 Years

Staff Writer

Biologists say the shark attacks off Shell Island Tuesday could have been brought about by a combination of unusual water conditions, or may have been the result of a ``single shark that's gone wild.''

Mike Brim, a U.S Fish and Wildlife marine biologist, said water conditions near the island may have played a part in the first known death by shark attack in Bay County in more than 20 years.

Brim was on the Gulf doing research when he heard radio reports of the first shark attack and boated to Shell Island. He discovered the water in that area was very murky, due to recent rains and decomposing seaweed.

``That (murky water) has always been pretty closely correlated to problems'' with sharks, Brim said, as the fish ``simply can't see as well'' and are more likely to accidentally run into humans. ``Turbid, muddy water is always one of the things they tell you not to swim in.''

Tests performed by Brim at the scene also showed that oxygen levels at the bottom of the Gulf were lower than usual, which he said can cause stress in fish and animals.

Additionally, the Gulf is at its warmest in September, a condition which Brim said attracts ``as many sharks as you're going to get'' in this area each year.

George Burgess, senior biologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, said another possible cause for the attacks exists.

Burgess, who also is director of the International Shark Attack File, a record of all known shark attacks worldwide, said the conditions surrounding the attacks as described to him by a reporter were ``highly suggestive to me of the possibility of a single shark that's gone wild, if you will.''

It is possible that a ``rogue'' shark, one that was ``either injured or suffering from some sort of a problem,'' went on the attack. Burgess likened such a shark to a people ``who go off the deep end and start shooting.''

But Burgess stressed that it is just as likely that there were several sharks in the murky water ``that are grabbing onto humans because they can't see very well.''


Regardless as to the cause, Burgess said, it is ``very, very uncommon'' for a shark attack to occur in the Gulf.

Between 12 and 15 shark attacks happen each year off Florida, Burgess said, with most of those occurring in the Atlantic south of Daytona Beach, where food sources are plentiful.

Less than one attack a year is fatal, he said.

Brim called the attacks ``damned unusual.'' He said there have been only four recorded shark attacks in waters off Bay County in more than 30 years.

The only known fatality occured in the early 1960s, when a diver was killed about eight miles offshore, Brim said.

The most recent attack occurred in the mid-1970s, Brim said, when a child was bitten in the arm while swimming near the jetties at St. Andrew State Park. That attack likely was made by a shark that had been attracted by a large number of bonito that fishermen had been catching and discarding in that area, he said.

Burgess said most shark attacks in Florida take place in the surf zone, where waves break close to the beach.

He refers to shark attacks as ``interactions,'' because sharks are not usually intentionally aggressive toward humans. Most interactions are ``cases of mistaken identity.'' A shark will see a surfer splashing his arms or wiggling his toes, Burgess said, which to the shark ``gives the appearance of schools of fishes.''

The type of shark, or sharks, involved in Tuesday's attacks has not been determined, but Brim said several species of potentially lethal sharks are found in this area.

The list includes blacktip, bull, dusky, lemon and tiger sharks. Hammerhead sharks are also found here, but Brim said witnesses at the second attack reported the shark did not have the distinctive shape of a hammerhead.

Both Brim and Burgess said it is possible the shark, or sharks, are still in the area.

``Certainly there's a pattern that was there today (Tuesday), and it's something that can't be ignored,'' Burgess said. He did not advocate ``closing'' the beaches, but said individuals should exercise caution -- ``that's logical.''

Brim recommended against swimming. ``I'd say stay out of the water for the next three or four days,'' he said. ``You won't catch me in the water.''

Panama City Beach is typically a very safe area for swimming, but because of the current water conditions, ``right now things are different.''
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