Bull shark encounters happened to a spearfishing diver and a National Football League star in separate incidents recently in Palm Beach County waters. Spearfishing diver Kyle Senkowicz was savaged by a bull shark off Singer Island in Riviera Beach on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, and a day later, Green Bay Packers linebacker Sam Barrington hooked a bull shark off Palm Beach.
Senkowicz, 25, was spearfishing for cobia with other divers when a seven-foot bull shark bit his right arm and shook him around. Senkowicz’s friends took him to Sailfish Marina where bystanders said he looked severely injured. According to Sun Sentinel, Riviera Beach Fire Rescue then transported him to St. Mary’s Medical Center where he is reportedly in fair condition.
As for Barringon, 25, he caught his 400-pound bull shark during a filming of the fishing show BlacktipH. He was using the National Football League’s offseason to go fishing, away from the usual grind. The star athlete shared a photo of his lucky catch with fans via an April 15 Instagram.
“Yesterdays catch with [BlacktipH] 400 pound Bull Shark of the coast of Palm Beach. Took about 45 minutes to get him in but it was worth it.”
According to ABC News, Senkowicz and three friends were out diving with spear guns on the day of his encounter with the bull shark. Toward the end of the outing, the Delray Beach man with 20 years of fishing experience found himself surrounded by sharks.
Senkowicz recalled reeling in a cobia fish he had speared when a bull came up to one side of him and sank its teeth into his right arm. The diver said he barely could see the shark out of his peripherals when it grabbed on. He recounted what the massive creature did next.
“He did one or two thrashes and let go and took off. He obviously wasn’t trying to eat me.”
Senkowicz’s friends rushed him to shore on their boat, and a rescue team took him to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach for emergency surgery. According to Senkowicz, thanks to the bull shark, seven tendons in his wrist and hand and one or two in his triceps had to be reconnected, and then stitches and staples were applied on the outside. He counted 107 applications, between stitches and staples.
According to WPTV, Florida Freedivers owner-operator Jonathan Dickinson, who trains people to free dive, spearfishes in his spare time and has never had an issue. He said that after a diver spears the cobia, the bull shark would usually swim away and want nothing to do with the fact that someone shot its passenger. The qualifier, he added, was that anyone who dives for cobia should be well trained and aware of all safety measures that come with the sport.
Dickinson said it was unclear what exactly happened with Senkowicz’s bull shark encounter, but insisted that even when divers are doing everything right, there can be freak occurrences.
“We can try to learn some of their habits and some of their signals of what they can tell us to do or not to do. But at the end of the day, they’re still a wild animal.”
A shallow-water dweller with virtually no tolerance for provocation, the bull shark is the most dangerous shark to humans. It is seen as responsible for the majority of near-shore shark attacks, including many bites attributed to other species.
After catching his big fish, NFL linebacker Barrington tweeted on Sunday that he had returned to Green Bay to begin training camp with the Packers. Senkowicz, still recovering from his bull shark bite, says he can’t wait to get back in the water.
[Image via Shutterstock]