The Florida Keys recorded its fourth shark bite in six months when a local Marathon scuba diver was bitten on Sept. 6.

According to reports from Marathon Fire Rescue and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the male victim was spearfishing while diving recreationally with friends in approximately 70 feet of water along the reef line about five miles south of Marathon when he was bitten on the elbow. Though not officially confirmed, initial reports indicated the bite likely came from a reef shark.

A call log from the sheriff’s office indicated that emergency responders were dispatched to Marathon’s Captain Hook’s Marina, where the victim was brought to shore before being eventually transported to the Marathon airport and flown via Trauma Star to Jackson South Medical Center in Miami. 

The identity of the victim has not been released by official sources, but friends apprised of the victim’s situation have indicated to Keys Weekly that he is in stable condition and recovering.

Three other shark bites have been reported in the Keys within the last half year. On Aug. 13,  10-year-old Jameson Reeder Jr. lost part of his leg after being bitten at Looe Key reef while snorkeling with his family. An April 17 bite at the Islamorada sandbar near Whale Harbor left one man with deep lacerations in his leg, while a June 29 bite on Summerland Key sent 35-year-old Lindsay Bruns of Flower Mound, Texas to the hospital for more than a week as she underwent multiple surgeries to repair most of the function in her injured leg.

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File (ISAF), there were 73 confirmed unprovoked shark bites in 2021, with 47 occurring in the United States. Florida topped the list of states reporting bites with 28 reported incidents; Hawaii was a distant second with six. Most unprovoked bites are believed to be a case of mistaken identity on the part of the shark, a scenario likely exacerbated by cloudy water with reduced visibility.

Keys Weekly will update this story as more details become available.

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Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.