An underwater photographer in Florida was recently bitten by a shark after he eagerly pursued the predator into the open ocean, and he contends that the incident was hardly the animal’s fault.
The unusual encounter took place on April 13, according to the Miami Herald, when Big Pine Key shark enthusiast Mark Rackley spotted a blue shark measuring between eight and nine feet long. Having never before observed a blue shark in the Keys, Rackley pursued the animal while filming it, an action he freely admits provoked the predator. After the duo had traveled around 300 yards into the open ocean, the shark decided it had had enough.
“I maneuvered to be in front of her to take photos,” Rackley recalled. “When I was over her, she swung her head around immediately and clamped onto my shoulder and bicep. It happened before I could blink.”
— Pelagic Life (@pelagiclife) April 25, 2015
The shark immediately released Rackley after he dropped his camera and grabbed the predator. Even as the blue shark bit into his shoulder, Rackley contends that he was struck by the beauty of the animal. Far from blaming the shark, he is sure that his own actions provoked the attack.
“I kind of made this happen. This didn’t have anything to do with shark behavior,” he observed. “I’ve had numerous close calls and I’ve seen that type of strike before.”
— Lateral Line (@yourlateralline) April 16, 2015
Though the shark’s bite was initially painful, Rackley noted that it went numb after just a few seconds. Taken to Lower Keys Medical Center on Stock Island following the attack, the 48-year-old Rackley passed out in the emergency room after feeling lightheaded. Doctors eventually sealed the bite wounds with 58 stitches, and aside from some scarring, his recovery has been smooth.
Migratory open water predators, blue sharks are rarely seen in the Florida Keys. As the Dominion Post notes, one of the predators was found trapped in a New Zealand harbor earlier this month. At the time, Te Papa shark expert Andrew Stewart made an observation about blue sharks sure to ring true with Rackley.
“You underestimate them at your peril,” he noted.
While blue sharks can be dangerous to humans, they in turn have their own predators. As the Inquisitr previously reported, divers and fishermen in South Africa have recently reported observing cape fur seals attacking and devouring blue sharks, in an astonishing reversal of the relationship between predator and prey.
Rackley, who has photographed sharks for both the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, noted that the bite won’t keep him from observing other sharks in Florida waters in the future.
[Image: Mark Rackley via the Miami Herald]