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Florida: Great white filmed off Pensacola, bull shark bites fisherman

Great white filmed off Pensacola Beach, Florida

Several shark interactions have been reported in Florida.

The first is the rare sighting of a great white shark off Pensacola Beach.

Hot Spots Fishing Charters Captain Tyler Massey and chartered guests were around 13 miles southeast of Pensacola Pass and 11 miles off Pensacola Beach April 27 when a great white showed up next to his boat.

“We followed him around for about five minutes,” Massey told the Pensacola News Journal. “We were sitting there fishing in the spot and the shark just kind of swam up. He just hung out around the top.”

The group watched the estimated 9- to 10-foot white shark as it cruised just beneath the surface of the water.

“He wasn’t aggressive; he didn’t seem interested in anything we were doing.” Massey said. “It was cool, everyone got a kick out of it for those five minutes or so. We followed it around until we couldn’t see it anymore. It went down and then we headed back to the pass.”

While it is rare to see a great white that close to Pensacola, they are known to travel near the area.  On March 19, 12-foot great white Miss Costa was satellite tracked in the area off Fort Walton Beach.  In April 2018 a male shark named Hilton made a similar journey.

While it can be exhilarating to see a shark up close, not all interactions are positive.


Paul Kelly, 72, was on a six-hour fishing trip May 1 with two others off Boca Grande Pass, Florida when he hooked a 150-pound tarpon.

The Texas fisherman tried to reel in the fish, but was pulled overboard and underwater.

As he struggled underwater, he felt something hit his leg.

The boat captain used a fishing rod to pull him back to the boat, and with the help of Kelly’s fishing buddy, they pulled the angler back into the boat.

Once Kelly was back on the vessel, the captain told him they saw an estimated 8- to 10-foot bull shark grab his leg.

Kelly felt no pain, but sustained a gash around his left calf and knee. The group worked together to secure a tourniquet around the Vietnam veteran’s leg and headed into shore.

“We lost the fish of course,” Kelly told news outlet azcentral. “That was the worst part.”

Emergency personnel were waiting on shore and prepared Kelly for air evacuation. Surgeon Robert O’Connor repaired the torn tendon in Kelly’s knee and said he should be able to leave the hospital in several days.  He also remarked at how rare shark bites are, and that this was the first one he had seen in ten years.

Another shark bite was reported on the west side of the state In April.  An unidentified man was in the water off Jacksonville Beach, when he was bitten on the leg about 5:30 p.m. April 21.

The man was helped by good Samaritans, and a friend said the man’s wound was to the bone and several tendons had been torn. He was picked up by emergency personnel near 30th Street South.

As of May 6, 2019, there have been a total of 25 shark attack bites (23 with injury, 7 of which are considered provoked*) publicly reported and verified in 2019.

All locations have been marked on the 2019 Shark Attack Map.

One fatal**; thirteen were reported in the U.S (including zero fatal), with 7 occurring in Florida (3 provoked) and 5 in Hawaii (0 provoked). Six have been reported in Australia, zero fatal. Four unconfirmed bites, worldwide, not included in the total count.
*Provoked defined as spearfishing, feeding sharks, fishing, etc. (listed with green marker).
**Three possible scavenge

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