The Florida Keys experienced two more recorded shark bites in less than two days on May 18 and 19, in entirely different scenarios.
On Thursday, 20-year-old Miami resident Kevin Blanco was spearfishing with friends in about 70 feet of water off Marathon when what he believed to be an estimated 9- to 10-foot bull shark bit him twice in the left leg at around 3 p.m.
“I don’t really remember the pain, but I remember the pressure and the force. … It felt like I got hit by an F-150,” Blanco told CBS Miami.
Using a belt as a tourniquet, Blanco’s friend Daniel Maduro tried to stop the bleeding as the group brought the injured diver to shore at Sunset Grille & Raw Bar. The Seven Mile Bridge closed in both directions for about 45 minutes to allow Trauma Star’s air ambulance to land and airlift Blanco to Jackson South Medical Center in Miami.
“I hardly know Danny, who I consider a hero, but what he did was miraculous,” said Omar Blanco, himself a captain with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, in a press conference. “Everything that could have gone wrong went right in this situation.”
Kevin is expected to make a full recovery and be released from Jackson South by early next week. He said the incident will “absolutely not” prevent him from spearfishing again, and that he hopes to be back in the water as quickly as possible.
In a second incident the following day, a 35-year-old man fishing off a dock on Summerland Key was bitten in the foot by a shark, according to a release from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Social media reports that have not yet been officially confirmed indicate the man was attempting to free the hooked shark when the incident occurred.
The man was flown via Trauma Star to Jackson South, and his immediate condition was not known, according to MCSO.
Though the risk of being bitten by a shark remains extremely low, the Keys have now experienced nine publicized bites over the last 13 months. Of the nine incidents, four involved spearfishing or an already-hooked animal and are therefore classified as “provoked bites” by the Florida Museum’s International Shark Attack File (ISAF).
According to ISAF’s 2022 yearly summary, there were 57 unprovoked bites worldwide last year, along with 32 provoked incidents. The United States claimed 41 of the 57 unprovoked bites (71.9%), with Florida alone responsible for 16 bites (28% of the global total). In Florida, Volusia County recorded the most bites in 2022 (7) with Monroe County in second place (4).
In a break from recent trends, 2022 saw surfers and those participating in board sports account for fewer incidents (35%) than swimmers and waders (43%).