Two shark bites have occurred in Indian River County, Florida in the past week. Both inflicted non-life-threatening injuries.
The first bite was reported at a beach near John’s Island Club around noon on March 25. Club manager Brian Kroh told TCPalm the victim, a teenage girl, sought help from nearby lifeguards. The lifeguards, who did not personally witness the attack, characterized her wounds as “relatively minor,” he said.
However, subsequent local news coverage suggested the attack was more serious than originally reported. Public safety officers who were called to the scene told Vero News the teenager had been bitten repeatedly on her knees, arms, and hands.
“She’s really lucky to be alive,” Rich Rosell, the public safety director of Indian River Shores, said. “There have been a lot of Black Tips and Spinners in the surf lately.”
The attack may have been a consequence of the specific environmental conditions that day, Rosell said.
“The wind churns up the surf close to the beach and traps the baitfish in the shallows,” Rosell said. “It also decreases visibility. The shark can’t distinguish a human from a fish.”
The teenager told officers she was swimming 15 feet or more offshore when the attack occurred.
“She saw a shadow coming toward her,” Rosell said.
She was treated at the scene and then taken by ambulance to Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital. Thankfully, she is expected to make a full recovery, Rosell said.
The second bite of the week took place five days later and three miles north. First responders were called to the scene around 1 p.m. after a tourist, 45-year-old David Cabrera, saw a man stumble out of the water and begin to bleed from wounds on his feet at the Disney-owned Vero Beach Resort.
Cabrera described one of the wounds as a three-to-four-inch “slice” and the other as a smaller cut. Soon afterward, the man became faint, presumably from shock.
Like the lifeguards before him, Cabrera did not see the creature responsible.
The United States leads the world and Florida the country in unprovoked shark attacks. In 2020, the International Shark Attack File investigated a total of 129 incidents.
Erik Toomsoo, the president of the Vero Beach Lifeguard Association, told Vero Beach News that the majority of attacks occur in the spring and summer when the weather is warmer and the prospect of a swim more alluring.