A frightening scene played out on Thursday in Keaton Beach, off the Gulf Coast in northwestern Florida, after a young girl was attacked by a shark.
According to the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, the teen suffered “serious injuries” and risks losing her leg. Taylor County Sheriff Wayne Padgett told CBS affiliate WCTV that the girl had successful surgery and is expected to survive.
She was reportedly “scalloping,” which involves floating along the surface of shallofw water, usually wearing a mask and snorkel, looking for the prized shellfish in the grassy bottom.
The bite victim, whose name and age weren’t publicly released, was in water approximately five feet deep near Grassy Island, when the approximately nine-foot shark approached.
A family member jumped in the water and beat the shark until it swam away, the sheriff says.
TCSO deputies, along with Taylor County Fire & Rescue and Century Ambulance EMS, responded to Keaton Beach to render emergency aid.
The girl was airlifted to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.
The sheriff’s office put out a news release on social media warning others who wish to participate in Florida’s scalloping season, which lasts through Labor Day in the Gulf of Mexico, to be vigilant.
“Some rules to follow are: never swim alone, do not enter the water near fishermen, avoid areas such as sandbars (where sharks like to congregate), do not swim near large schools of fish, and avoid erratic movements while in the water.”
“It’s a tragedy, what’s happened,” Padgett said of the incident, adding the type of shark involved was not determined.