Page 1 of 1

Re: 02/03/2010 Stephen Schafer ( Florida ) *** Fatal ***

Posted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:13 pm
by sharkbait
Expert: Shark was trying kill, eat kiteboarder during attack; 'This was the real thing'
Photo by Thomas Winter <br />Stephen Schafer of Stuart seen at the reception for his father, artist Howard Schafer, at the Court House Cultural Center on Jan. 15, 2010.
Photo by Thomas Winter
Stephen Schafer of Stuart seen at the reception for his father, artist Howard Schafer, at the Court House Cultural Center on Jan. 15, 2010.
stephen_schafer_1.jpg (17.69 KiB) Viewed 39060 times
By Michael LaForgia Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

STUART — A shark attack that killed a kiteboarder on Wednesday was the rarest and most frightening kind of strike, a case of a powerful 9-foot predator likely meaning to kill and eat its human prey, a leading shark expert said Friday.

"There's a big difference between the normal hit-and-run bites that we see on the coast of Florida and what we're unfortunately experiencing here this week," said George Burgess, keeper of the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File. "This thing here was closer to our preconception about what a shark attack is."

That preconception, stoked by books and movies, doesn't hold for the vast majority of shark bites, which occur when sharks snap at humans while going after fish. But in rare instances, a shark will come across a human bobbing in the waves and attack with intent.

That's what happened to Stephen Schafer, 38, in the water south of Stuart Beach on Wednesday, Burgess said.

"This was the real thing," Burgess said. "This was a bigger shark apparently seeing a human as an appropriately sized item worth pursuing."

About 4:15 p.m., Schafer was a quarter-mile offshore when at least one large shark, probably a bull or tiger, attacked and mortally wounded him, according to Burgess and autopsy results. The Stuart man died of blood loss despite a Martin County lifeguard's efforts to save him, said Dr. Linda O'Neil, who examined Schafer's body Thursday night.

O'Neil said Schafer was bitten twice, once on the buttocks and once on the right thigh. She said the bites, which were 9 to 10 inches in diameter, likely came from the same shark.

Schafer had a set of puncture wounds on each buttock, "like it bit across his bottom," O'Neil said. "The upper jaw got one side and the lower jaw got the other side."

The shark delivered a fatal, tearing bite to Schafer's right thigh, a wound so deep that one tooth struck his femur, O'Neil said.

"The femoral artery was intact but all the smaller arteries that lead to the femoral in the region of the right thigh were severed," O'Neil said, which led Schafer to bleed out while lifeguard Daniel Lund, 46, fought wind and waves to drag him to safety.

Schafer probably lost more than 2.5 liters of blood, or half the blood in his body, O'Neil said.

The doctor said Schafer also had a bite wound to his right hand. He probably got it trying to fend off the shark as it bit his thigh, she said.

The autopsy couldn't determine how long Schafer had been bleeding before he was dragged in, but O'Neil said it likely was a matter of minutes before the lifeguard got to him.

Burgess also examined Schafer's body Thursday night and agreed with O'Neil's findings. He said the size of the bite marks and the manner of attack indicated the shark likely was 8 or 9 feet long.

Bull and tiger sharks roam the Florida coast year-round. A bull shark was responsible for the state's last fatal attack in 2005 in the Panhandle, which Burgess said was "very similar" to Wednesday's incident.

This was the first fatal shark attack ever recorded in Martin County.

Some scientists have theorized that bull sharks are more aggressive because their bodies produce more testosterone, a hypothesis yet to be proven.

About four fatal shark attacks are recorded worldwide each year.

As Burgess studied Wednesday's attack, he offered these words of warning to surfers and swimmers: "To reduce risks, it's recommended people stick together in groups and stay close to shore."

Teague Taylor, a close friend of Schafer's, said Schafer always stressed to him the importance of the buddy system.

"I grew up watching way too much Jaws," Taylor said. "If there's anybody who's hesitant or, for lack of a better word, scared, it's me."

But, he added, he and other surfers were determined to get back in the water.

"It'll be good for all of us," he said. "We all need to get back out there. The more we prolong it, the more that fear kind of sets in ." ... 15439.html

Re: 02/03/2010 Stephen Schafer ( Florida ) *** Fatal ***

Posted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:42 am
by sharkbait
Shark attack 'probably a feeding event,' says expert helping with autopsy

The shark bit Steve Schafer twice, on his leg and back.

Unlike most shark attacks in Florida, this shark bit once and came back again as Schafer tried to get out of the way.

"We have a lot of what we think are mistaken identity attacks where the shark makes a quick grab then lets go and is gone, isn't seen again," says Dr. George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida and curator of the International Shark Attack File.

"We call them hit and run attacks. That's the norm here for Florida. This was not that. This was the real thing. This was a thing where the shark bit at a human being with some intention to do damage in probably a feeding event."

Burgess is assisting with autopsy of Schafer, who died Wednesday afternoon.

The 38-year old had been kiteboarding about a quarter-mile off Stuart Beach.

Burgess says he's not sure yet what type of shark killed Burgess, but based on the type of attack, it was likely a tiger or bull shark.

Both are known to be aggressive.

More measurements are needed, but Burgess thinks the shark was likely eight to nine feet long.

In his 30-year career, Burgess has seen few fatal shark attacks.

"Fact is that we have about four deaths per year worldwide despite the literally billions of hours spent in the water by humans every year," he says. "So your chance as an individual of being bitten are pretty close to infinitesimal and dying even less."

Each case is a chance for researchers to learn something new, to find patterns and give people better information on how to avoid being attacked.

Burgess says beachgoers don't need to worry about this attack, but they should always swim with caution.

Don't go alone or go to far out and remember, the sharks are swimming there too.

"Going into the water is a wilderness experience," says Burgess. "It's going into an environment that's not ours and any wilderness experience involves a certain amount of risk and accepting of that risk." ... expert-he/

Re: 02/03/2010 Stephen Schafer ( Florida ) *** Fatal ***

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:39 pm
by sharkbait
Lifeguard describes rescue of shark attack victim

By BRIAN SKOLOFF Associated Press Writer

A lifeguard who rescued the victim of a shark attack off Florida's Atlantic coast said Thursday he could see several sharks breaking the surface and blood in the water as he approached in rough surf.

The 38-year-old victim, Stephen Howard Schafer, died in a hospital soon after being pulled to shore, marking the first fatal shark attack in Florida in five years.

Lifeguard Daniel Lund, 47, said he first spotted Schafer from his tower on the beach Wednesday afternoon and he could tell the kiteboarder was in trouble. He said Schafer was lying on the large sail he was using to pull himself across the water.

Lund grabbed his long surfboard and paddled 20 minutes through rough seas, fighting 4- to 6-feet-high waves, to reach Schafer about a quarter-mile offshore.

"I get to him, I'm probably within 20 yards or so from him, and there's just a lot of blood in the water," Lund said.

He could see several sharks circling nearby. He pulled the injured Schafer onto his board and began paddling back. Lund declined to describe Schafer's injuries, but said he was conscious and speaking when they got to the beach and paramedics began treating him.

Authorities are investigating what types of sharks were involved and whether multiple sharks bit Schafer. Beaches remained open Thursday.

Shark attacks, especially fatal ones, are extremely rare, said George Burgess, a leading shark expert who directs the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida's Museum of Natural History. The file lists 1,032 attacks in the U.S. documented since 1690. Only 50 of them were fatal.

"Internationally, we've been averaging four fatalities per year, despite the fact that there are billions and billions of human hours spent in the sea every year," Burgess said Thursday. "Your chances of dying in the mouth of a shark are close to infinitesimal."

Friends said Schafer always followed the buddy system while surfing and were surprised he was in the water alone.

"We always know that (sharks) are out there. You see them this time of the year," said Teague Taylor, a childhood friend who says Schafer taught him to surf. "It's hard to believed that such an experienced waterman would make that one mistake."

Schafer, a gifted artist and graphic designer, was drawn to the water as a child. He surfed competitively and later started sailing, windsurfing and kiteboarding. Kiteboarders surf across the water on boards strapped to their feet, using large curved sails to pull them along.

"He had to be around the water," said Taylor, who manages a local surf shop.

The last fatal shark attack in the state was in 2005 off the Florida Panhandle, where a 14-year-old Louisiana girl was attacked while swimming on a body board about 100 yards off shore.

"Florida as a geographic entity has more than any other place in the world," Burgess said, noting that most attacks are minor, "the equivalent of a dog bite."

However, Burgess noted that this time of year there are typically fewer shark attacks in Florida because temperatures are cooler and not as many people are in the water.

He said sharks are lining "up in South Florida getting ready to move north" as temperatures begin to warm.

"The sharks gradually move their way northward and disperse," Burgess said. "The message to take home is this is a rare and unusual event. It should put the antennae up for people, in terms of, 'Yeah, we need to be careful when we enter the sea, but we need to do that every time because we're never guaranteed safety 100 percent of the time when we enter a wild world.'"

Re: 02/03/2010 Stephen Schafer ( Florida ) *** Fatal ***

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:49 am
by sharkbait
Shark attack victim loved the water
Schafer died after being bitten by a shark off Stuart Beach. (Courtesy: Chris Shultz)
Schafer died after being bitten by a shark off Stuart Beach. (Courtesy: Chris Shultz)

STUART, FL - The phone at Surf Central started ringing right after four Wednesday.

Friend after friend told Teague Taylor news he couldn't believe.

"I just can't picture anyone, let alone a friend being circled by sharks here in Stuart, Florida," says Taylor, a longtime friend of Stephen Schafer's. "Doing something that he loves to do, doing something that he's done most of his life."

The 38-year old had been kite-boarding just south of Stuart Beach Wednesday afternoon.

According to Martin County Fire Rescue, a lifeguard spotted Schafer through his binoculars.

Schafer was about a quarter mile offshore, in the water and in trouble.

The lifeguard swam out on his rescue board and Schafer told him he'd been bitten by a shark.

The lifeguard paddled him back to shore.

Schafer died at Martin Memorial Medical Center.

Taylor met Schafer when the two were just teens.

Schafer taught him how to surf and they'd both spend all their spare time in the water.

Taylor bumped into his friend less than 24 hours before his death. They'd both been out surfing.

"Just a good guy," says Taylor, tears running down his face. "You'd want to buy him a beer. One of the nicest guys I've ever met." ... px?rss=762

Re: 02/03/2010 Stephen Schafer ( Florida ) *** Fatal ***

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:43 pm
by sharkbait
Kiteboarder attacked by sharks dies from injuries, authorities report

STUART — A 38-year-old kiteboarder attacked by sharks Wednesday afternoon has died from his injuries, authorities are reporting.

About 4:15 p.m, Martin County Fire Rescue received a call about a shark attack in an unguarded beach just south of Stuart Beach, officials said.

A lifeguard saw the man in distress at least 500 yards from shore. When the lifeguard paddled out to the man, he saw the man encircled by sharks, officials said.

The lifeguard put the victim on his rescue board and paddled to shore. Officials performed CPR on the man, who had multiple bite wounds, and he was rushed to Martin Memorial North Medical Center, where he later died.

A woman, who answered the phone at the lifeguard's residence, said he had no comment. ... arks-dies/

Re: 02/03/2010 Stephen Schafer ( Florida ) *** Fatal ***

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:40 pm
by sharkbait
Fatal shark attack at local beach

Shark attack off Hutchinson Island

Shark attack off of a Stuart beach. (WPTV)
Related Links
Local surfers' close call with a jumping shark
Sharks close beach two days in a row

MARTIN COUNTY, FL-- A man encircled by several sharks was rescued Wednesday afternoon off Stuart Beach.

A lifeguard noticed the man, who was apparently kite boarding, in an unguarded stretch of water.

When the lifeguard investigated he discovered the victim had several shark bites and appeared unconscious.

He put the man on the board, returned to shore, and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The shark-bite victim was transported to Martin Memorial Hospital where he later died.

Martin County Sheriff's Office is investigating. It is unclear is the beach is closed to swimmers.

Several thousands of sharks have been spotted just off shore because of migration.

Several local beaches have closed down due to shark sighttings in recent months.

02/03/2010 Stephen Schafer ( Florida ) *** Fatal ***

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:38 pm
by sharkbait
Kite Surfer Attacked By Shark Off Fla. Beach Sharks Still Circling Victim When Lifeguards Arrived

POSTED: 7:54 pm EST February 3, 2010

Comments STUART, Fla. -- A kite surfer was in critical condition Wednesday night after a shark attack in South Florida.

A lifeguard noticed the surfer, who appeared to be in distress, at about 4:15 p.m. Officials said the male victim of unknown age was in an unguarded area south of Stuart Beach.

The lifeguard went into the rough water and paddled to the victim on a rescue board. Officials said sharks were still circling the surfer as the lifeguard put him on the board and paddled back to shore.

CPR was administered immediately and rescue crews took the victim to Martin Memorial Hospital North in critical condition.

No further information is available at this time.