Florida surfer survives shark attack

shark attack

Ryan Shapiro gets assistance after shark attack; photo by Christine Bonodello is a video screen grab

Ryan Shapiro had just finished taking his SAT exam on Saturday and was hoping that a surf session at Fort Pierce Inlet, Florida, would be the perfect stress reliever.

That plan backfired, however, when a four-foot shark attacked Shapiro in waist-deep water moments after he had begun to paddle out.

"I just felt the shark completely … just hit me so hard in the arm," Shapiro, who is from Boca Raton, says in the accompanying WPTV video news report. "It was just so scary and so real. I was just screaming, and everyone got the idea that I got bit."

In a WPBF report, the 18-year-old was more descriptive of the attack by what was believed to be a spinner shark hunting fish in the surf zone: "It just hit me, right there, it just hit me so hard, and I remember … the shark literally jumped on top of me."

Shapiro was with his sister and friends, and had noticed bait fish boiling near the surface before paddling out. The shark or several sharks might have been what scared the smaller fish.

spinner shark

Generic spinner shark image is courtesy of NMFS

The surfer received lots of help on the beach, before being transported to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center. He suffered damage to seven tendons in his right arm and his recovery, doctors said, would last about six weeks.

But like many surfers who survive shark bites, Shapiro vowed to go surfing again, as soon as he's able.

"I just want to go back into the water, honestly, even though the shark bit me," he said. "Like, I had my fight with it and everything. I just want to go back and surf with my mates and everything."

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, spinner sharks reach about 9 feet in length. They're highly migratory and often travel in schools. They're fast swimmers and will sometimes leap and spin, hence their name.

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They've been implicated in sporadic attacks on humans, but no fatal attacks.