Boy punches shark, survives attack in Florida

Twelve-year old Josh Bitner Jr. from Sparks, Ga., survived a shark attack in shallow water at Fernandina Beach in northeast Florida. 

WPTV-West Palm, Fla.
Twelve-year old Josh Bitner Jr. from Sparks, Ga., survived a shark attack at Fernandina Beach in northeast Florida.

A 12-year-old boy is recovering in a hospital after police say he was bitten by a shark in the waters off northeast Florida.

Police say the boy, who lives in Sparks, Ga., suffered significant injuries to his leg after the attack Sunday afternoon at Fernandina Beach. Police say Josh Bitner Jr. was in waist-deep water when he felt the bite near his knee.

Bitner told The Florida Times-Union something grabbed his leg, turned him around and bit him again. He says he punched the shark, then grabbed its top fin and pulled it out of the water and started yelling "shark!"

Bitner was treated by paramedics at the scene and taken to a hospital in Jacksonville for treatment.

The Florida Times-Union reported:

This was the first shark bite reported in Fernandina Beach this year. But another was reported Sunday at Vilano Beach, plus two more Thursday at Jacksonville Beach and Little Talbot Island, bringing the total to seven in Northeast Florida since June.

The number can be blamed on bait fish like mullet, International Shark Attack File Curator George Burgess said. Mullet leave local rivers to spawn in the ocean in late summer. So when sharks, barracudas and other predators “create havoc” as they head for the free food along the shore, it may be time to avoid the surf, Burgess said.

“You have an unholy soup of mullets, sharks and humans, and it is a formula for what we have this time of year,” said Burgess at Gainesville’s Florida Museum of Natural History. “We are visitors to the sea and when we visit, we have to be a bit more careful because there are more fish around. One of the ‘do’s’ is to avoid any situation when [bait] fish are seen in the water or birds are diving to catch them.”

The Shark Attack file reports 16 shark bites this year in Florida. 

After a spate of shark attacks earlier this summer in North Carolina, The Christian Science Monitor reported:

Globally, some 75 people are involved in unprovoked shark attacks each year, about 10 of which result in death, according to Florida Museum of Natural History. In the United States, there are about 19 shark attacks per year with roughly one fatality every two years.

Swimmers can take certain steps to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of a shark attack by swimming in groups and taking care to avoid entering the water when bleeding, experts say.

People can decrease the chance of becoming a victim of a shark attack by being proactive about their own safety. Florida Museum of Natural History has some tips: Swim in a group since sharks most often attack lone individuals. Sharks can smell and taste blood, so do not enter the water bleeding.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.