Shark attacks in Florida: a woman and two girls injured on the beaches

Image source, South Walton Fire District

Legend, Local firefighters shared photos of the aftermath of the attacks

  • Author, Francesca Gillette
  • Role, BBC News

Beachgoers on Florida’s Gulf Coast have been urged to be vigilant after three swimmers were attacked by sharks in two separate attacks.

A woman reportedly had part of her arm amputated after being bitten Friday in Walton County, northwest Florida.

Less than two hours later, on another beach six kilometers further east, two teenage girls were in waist-deep water with friends when they were attacked.

One of the girls suffered “significant injuries to her upper leg and one hand,” while the other suffered minor injuries to one foot, firefighters said.

Authorities patrolled the coastline in boats and some beaches were closed, although they reopened on Saturday with purple flags warning of dangerous marine life.

The first incident occurred around 1:20 p.m. local time on Friday when a woman, approximately 45 years old, was attacked near WaterSound Beach, the South Walton Fire District said.

She suffered “serious injuries” to her left hip and arm and was airlifted to a hospital, firefighters said.

Part of his arm had to be amputated, fire chief Ryan Crawford later said at a press briefing, according to the BBC’s US partner CBS News.

Image source, South Walton Fire District

Legend, Firefighters said the 45-year-old woman, who was swimming, was airlifted to a trauma center.

The second attack – against two girls aged around 15 – happened around 2:55 p.m. local time near Seacrest Beach, firefighters added.

“Please swim safely, respect the Gulf, stay hydrated and look out for your loved ones,” the South Walton Fire District said on X.

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office said

“We would like to reiterate that sharks are still present in the Gulf,” they said.

“Swimmers and beachgoers should use caution when swimming and remain aware of their surroundings.”

ISAF said last year there were 69 unprovoked shark bites on humans and 22 provoked bites worldwide.

In Florida, the majority of shark attacks are caused by requiem sharks, a family of sharks that like warm seas and includes species such as bull sharks and blacktip sharks.

Image source, Walton Co Sheriff

Legend, Marine experts are monitoring the coastline, the sheriff’s office said.

Most attacks take place in coastal waters, usually near a sandbar where sharks feed and can become trapped at low tide.

Small fish move in schools close to shore this time of year, which may have contributed to Friday’s attacks, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office suggested.

The time of the attacks – mid-afternoon – was also an anomaly, Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson said, according to CBS News.

Image source, Walton Co Sheriff

Legend, A 14-foot hammerhead shark was spotted by sheriff’s deputies – although it is not confirmed what type of shark attacked the swimmers.

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