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Colorado teen bitten by shark in shallow water off of Sanibel

By Staff | Apr 8, 2009

Last Friday afternoon, a teenager swimming in thigh-deep water was apparently bitten by a shark off the western shoreline of Sanibel.

According to a report released by the city, the Sanibel Police Department responded to a call on April 3 at 4:10 p.m. on the beach adjacent to the Dosinia Cottages, at 3339 West Gulf Drive. Upon arriving at the scene, police discovered a 15-year-old male who appeared to be suffering from a shark bite.

Although no specific details of the incident have been released, police did confirm the identity of the teenager – Jack May of Colorado – but did not disclose his condition as of Wednesday morning. May was transported to a local hospital following the attack.

Last week, City Manager Judie Zimomra said that she could not recall any shark attacks on Sanibel since before Hurricane Charley.

“It’s been at least five years since we’ve seen any shark interaction with humans here,” said Zimomra, who noted that smaller sharks or groups of sharks have been seen periodically off the coast of the island, without any incident.

In August 2008, a 47-year-old Cape Coral man, Jack Miller, reported what he believed to be a shark bite. He sustained the injury to his right arm while swimming in front of the Sanibel Moorings, located at 845 East Gulf Drive.

Miller also reported that he bandaged the injury himself and did not require additional medical attention.

Following last week’s shark attack, members of the Sanibel Police Department went door-to-door to residences, hotels and condominiums handing out information to visitors and residents.

In addition, the City of Sanibel released a list of precautions that swimmers can take to protect themselves while out in the water:

Swim, dive or surf with other people – never alone. Sharks are more likely to attack a solitary individual.

Avoid swimming between sandbars, near steep drop-offs, near channels or at river mouths where sharks are found.

Avoid wearing shiny jewelry that might simulate the scales of a prey fish, and also avoid uneven tanning and contrasting, bright-colored clothing.

Don’t swim at dusk or at night.

Refrain from excessive splashing.

Keep pets and domestic animals, with their erratic movements, out of the water.

Don’t swim near people who are fishing or spear-fishing, chumming or using live bait.

Avoid spreading blood or human wastes in the water. Do not enter the water if bleeding from an open wound or if menstruating – a shark’s olfactory ability is acute.

If schooling fish start to behave erratically or congregate in large numbers, leave the area. Diving seabirds are good indicators of schooling bait fish or feeding activity.

Sightings of porpoises do not indicate the absence of sharks. Both often eat the same food items.

If a shark is sighted in the area, leave the water as calmly and quickly as possible.

Do not harass a shark if one is spotted.

Additional information can be obtained from www.mote.org/sharks or at www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/sharks .

Sharks are often found along the beaches in the Gulf of Mexico, and while attacks on humans have been reported in the past, they are still considered to be very rare.