A Florida woman was bitten by a shark — and if that weren’t bad enough, the animal kept its jaws clenched on the woman’s arm even after it died. The shark was still attached as the woman was taken to an area hospital.
As the Palm Beach Post reports, the unidentified 23-year-old woman was swimming in the waters off of Boca Raton when, for unknown reasons, a two-foot nurse shark bit her and then attached itself to her arm. The shark was killed on the scene by fellow beachgoers, but even in death, the animal remained attached to the woman.
— KVJ (@KVJShow) May 15, 2016
First responders attached the woman’s arm — and the shark — to a splint and took her to the hospital, where she was treated and released. As of this writing, the extent of the woman’s injuries is not known.
Onlookers said the woman remained calm throughout her ordeal, and there was little blood.
According to National Geographic, nurse sharks are bottom-dwelling creatures that rarely attack humans unless provoked.
“Nurse sharks are slow-moving bottom-dwellers and are, for the most part, harmless to humans. However, they can be huge—up to 14 feet (4.3 meters)—and have very strong jaws filled with thousands of tiny, serrated teeth, and will bite defensively if stepped on or bothered by divers who assume they’re docile.”
— Tom O’Connor (@divephotos) August 10, 2014
On the rare occasions when nurse sharks do attack humans, the wounds are usually superficial because the animals’ teeth are so small. However, as in all animal attacks where the skin is broken, doctors must be vigilant about protecting against infection when treating the victim.
In fact, even though they make for alarming headlines, shark attacks, in general, are actually exceptionally rare. According to a February 2016 National Geographic report, 2015 was an exceptionally busy year for shark attacks on humans, with 98 people getting bitten, six fatally, around the world. The higher number was due mostly to warmer oceans spurred on by El Niño specifically, and climate change in general, plus a robust economy that sent more people to beaches.
Still, even in spite of 2015’s sharp increase in the number of shark attacks, the odds of a human beach-goer being bitten by a shark are minimal.
“In fact, the average annual number of deaths from sharks over the past decade has remained constant, at six, despite fluctuations in the numbers of incidents. The chance for any individual tangling with a shark remains vanishingly small.”
Depending on whom you ask, the odds of dying from a shark attack are either one in eight million, or one in 11.8 million, or somewhere in between. The odds of dying in a car wreck, by comparison, are one in 90.
This is not the first time a swimmer has been attacked by a marine animal that attached itself to the victim. In January, according to this Inquisitr report, a tourist in Brazil somehow came into contact with a saltwater catfish, which then became embedded in her abdomen.
“She was screaming too. At first I didn’t understand what was going on. After I saw the situation I understood. She asked for God’s sake and described what was hurting. It was scary.”
The Boca Raton beach where the woman was bitten by a shark remains open to the public as of this writing.
[Image via Shutterstock/Martin P]