A surfer was bitten by a shark in Ponce Inlet, Florida, September 13.
Benjamin Loyd couldn’t resist the Inlet’s deep aqua water and the breaks.
The 18-year-old normally surfs at New Smyrna Beach, which is the shark attack capital of the world, but his surfing partner wanted to hit the inlet.
Loyd caught a wave around 6:45 p.m. and rode it until it flattened out approximately 25 to 30 yards off the beach in around 4-feet of water.
“I just jumped off my board real quick and as I went to stand . . . right before I hit the bottom, I felt something grab me,” Loyd said. “I freaked out and [hydro]planed on my back and kicked a little, and it immediately let go.”
Unsure what had happened, his instinct kicked in.
“I pulled my board toward me, because I was freaking out that something grabbed me. I didn’t really feel a lot of pain, just pressure on my foot.
“I got back on my board and tried to look at the bottom of my foot to see if I was bleeding and I wasn’t, so I paddled back out.”
As he resumed paddling, the pressure in his foot turned into pain. By the time he reached his friend, he felt blood running down the top of his foot.
“When I asked my friend what my foot looked like, he said, ‘You’re bleeding really bad. I think you got bit by a shark.’”
As the two began paddling back to the beach, the pain in Loyd’s left foot grew with each stroke.
Beachgoers helped him out of the water and rinsed off the wound.
“It looked pretty bad. I could see all the way down to the bone on my big toe. I got to shore and they propped my foot up on a beach chair and wrapped it in a towel until the lifeguard got there,” he said.
Once his foot was wrapped, the bleeding stopped and the pain eased.
His friend took him to the local hospital and doctors were able to close the wound using 10 to 12 sutures for his big toe and 2 to 3 more to close the other wounds.
He said the doctor believed the injury was caused by a 5 to 6-foot shark, and also advised against surfing until the wound healed, but the doctor did clear him should he choose to go.
“I was out two weeks after my bite,” he said. “The cut had healed up pretty well and was pretty solid.
“The whole time I was surfing, my friends were making fun of me saying ‘oh, watch, you are going to get bit again’ and this and that, and I was like guys . . . I really hate you now. “
There have been six shark attack bites reported in 2017 along a 5-mile stretch between Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna Beach.
The first attack occurred March 27 when Robert Nesbit was bitten on the foot around 10 a.m. The 58-year-old had a minor wound and was able to drive himself to the hospital.
Melanie Lawson was bitten by a 5-foot hammerhead shark April 4 near Esther Street Beachfront Park. The 51-year-old was hit hard on the side and knocked into the water. The shark left several teeth marks and a bruise on her thigh.
Bryan Brock was surfing north of the jetty June 10 when he was bitten on his foot and left hand. The 19-year-old needed 48 stitches in his foot and another 4 for his hand.
Although Brock has had two separate run-ins with sharks, he still loves the water. “Even though I got bit two times in less than a year, it did not alter my love for sharks, and now I will back in the water as soon as possible,” Brock told Tracking Sharks. “I might be crazy, but I’d go crazy if I couldn’t surf.”
Chase Elmore was surfing at the jetty September 2 when he ended up fighting a shark. The 17-year-old was reaching down to grab his surfboard when a shark grabbed his hand.
An unidentified man was bitten in 8 feet of water September 17. The 28-year-old was near the jetty when he was bitten on the top and bottom of his foot.
There have been a total of 83* shark attack bites in 2017, 5 of which were fatal*; 41 were reported in the US, with 28 occurring in Florida** and one in Hawaii. Twelve have been reported in Australia, one of which was fatal. Five unconfirmed worldwide and not included in the total count.
All locations have been marked on the 2017 Shark Attack Bites Tracking Map.
*Two may be scavenge. **One report may have been outside of Florida waters.