The 38-year-old man was bleeding and surrounded by sharks when a lifeguard spotted him in distress.
While it’s too soon to tell what kind of shark attacked the man, some experts have suggested that it may have been multiple sharks—maybe even great whites.
Keep reading to find out more details, including what this means for Florida beaches.
At around 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, a lifeguard at Stuart Beach noticed a man in distress in an unguarded stretch of water.
The lifeguard paddled out and heard the man, Stephen Schafer, scream that he had been bitten by a shark.
The lifeguard placed Schafer on his rescue board and towed him to shore. Paramedics then took Schafer to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
While nips and bites from sharks trolling the waters surrounding Florida are not entirely uncommon, these run-ins rarely prove to be fatal. The last known deadly shark attack in Florida was more than 5 years ago. In Martin County, home of Stuart and Stuart Beach, a fatal shark attack hasn’t been recorded since 1882.
That’s because smaller sharks are more common to the area than larger sharks. These smaller sharks are responsible for the less severe puncture wounds, but they are not man-eaters.
Shark experts say it is most likely that the man was bitten by a larger shark, like a bull, tiger, or even a group of young great whites, but they won’t know for certain until they examine the bite marks.
Stuart is located roughly 2 hours north of Miami on the eastern coast of Florida. Martin County officials say they have no plans to close their beaches.
There will be a memorial service for Schafer at Stuart Beach on Saturday.
By Dan Bence for PeterGreenberg.com.
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