A shark bit an Austrian tourist on the ankle Friday while the man stood in chest-deep water in the Gulf of Mexico, the sheriff’s office said. It was the third shark attack in the state in a week.
Armin Projer, 19, was airlifted by helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, where he was in good condition, hospital spokeswoman Pat Dolce said.
“It is a confirmed shark attack,” Lee County sheriff’s spokeswoman Ileana LiMarzi said. “Someone else in the water saw a shark.”
Paramedics also indicated the wound was consistent with a shark bite, she said. The man was bitten near the lighthouse at Gasparilla Island Beach.
“We are out there right now letting people know, notifying people on the beach about what happened,” LiMarzi said. The beach was not closed to swimmers.
Two other young people have been bitten since Saturday in gulf water off Florida. The latest incident was about 280 miles from an attack Monday on a 16-year-old boy who lost his leg and about 350 miles from the spot where a 14-year-old girl was killed Saturday.
Experts believed bull sharks attacked both teens in the Florida Panhandle. The type of shark involved in Friday’s attack was not immediately determined.
Experts say shark attacks are rare, pointing out that there were only 30 in 2003 among the millions of people who hit the state’s beaches. Most of those attacks were minor bites on the feet or ankles. Last year, when four hurricanes kept many visitors away, there were 12 attacks.