Teen surfer in Florida attacked by shark in chilling video

Florida’s New Smyrna beach, where the shark attacked the teen surfer, is unofficially dubbed the shark-bite capital of the world

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 16 September 2021 16:51 BST
Related video: Sharks lurk around divers off Wales coast
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A 16-year-old teen on holiday in Florida was bitten in the arm by a shark, while bystanders looked on in alarm and a photographer filmed the attack.

The chilling video shows surfer Doyle Nielson paddling on his board at around 1.20pm on 9 September in New Smyrna beach, also known as the unofficial shark-bite capital of the world.

The six-foot-long shark’s fin can briefly be seen out of the water as it approaches Doyle. The shark soon after attacks the teen surfer and bites his right arm.

“It felt like someone on their surfboard had come full speed directly at me and hit me super hard,” Doyle was quoted as saying by ABC News. “And then after somebody had yelled, ‘there’s a shark, get out of there,’ I realised what it was,” he added.

Photographer Sam Scribner was filming the waves at the time and happened to record the shark attack as it unfolded.

When the shark let go of Doyle’s arm, he made it to the shore, after which he was taken to hospital. He received nine stitches on his right arm.

“Doyle was right in the middle of my frame and the shark just hit him. It was over in a matter of seconds, too. It’s crazy how quickly it happened,” Mr Scribner told ABC 7 News.

ABC’s report said the Smyrna beach was crowded with surfers on the day of the incident as winds from Hurricane Larry promised strong surf.

Doyle planned to continue surfing, despite the frightening experience. “I’ll definitely be surfing again, but I know that it’ll affect my mindset. Like, I’ll be a little more cautious in the water,” he said.

On an Instagram post, Mr Scribner said Hurricane Larry “certainly brought us good waves, but apparently the true locals of Ponce Inlet weren’t happy about the crowd.”

“I certainly don’t want to villainise sharks, this is something that’s all too common in the waters around New Smyrna Beach. We are in their territory and sometimes those little (thankfully he was little) guys like to enact the stand your ground law. (No glocks, just teeth),” he said in the post.

Meanwhile, Volusia County in Florida averages nine shark attacks per year. Doyle’s is the tenth such attack in 2021.

“You throw in surfers in the middle of that surf and you’re going to have an unholy mix that almost inevitably results in a bite,” George Burgess, with the University of Florida programme for shark research, told ABC.

The Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File (ISAF) investigated 129 alleged shark-human interactions worldwide in 2020. ISAF confirmed 57 unprovoked shark bites on humans and 39 provoked bites.

However, ISAF also said that “the 2020 worldwide total of 57 confirmed unprovoked cases was lower than the most recent five-year – 2015-2019 – average of 80 incidents annually.”

ISAF also pointed out that Florida topped global charts in the number of shark bites for decades, with this trend continuing in 2020.

“Florida’s 16 cases represent 48 per cent of the US total and 28 per cent of unprovoked bites worldwide. However, the state saw a significant drop from its most recent five-year annual average of 30 incidents,” ISAF said.

“When people are paddling on their board, the soles of their feet catch the light and very quickly, in exactly the same way scales on a mullet or a menhaden might catch the light,” Gavin Naylor, the director of ISAF, was quoted by TV network Spectrum News as saying.

“And when you’re a predator, you don’t tarry. You have to be quick and make a quick decision.”

Meanwhile, Mr Scribner said on his Instagram: “I sincerely hope that the kid is not too scarred from the chomp & he’s able to get back in the water as soon as possible.”

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