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Florida authorities vigilant after shark attacks

Photo: Hotel Eden Archives A woman and two teenage girls were injured in two separate shark attacks on Friday.

Associated Press Seacrest, Florida

Published yesterday at 6:10 p.m.

  • United States

Authorities are using boats to monitor the area and warn swimmers of sharks this weekend along Florida's west coast, where a woman and two teenage girls were injured in two separate shark attacks Friday .

Attacks off beaches in Florida's Panhandle led authorities to temporarily close several beaches to swimmers on Friday. Beaches were reopened Saturday, with flags warning of high risks.

In Walton County, the sheriff's office, fire department and wildlife agency state officials were working together to conduct patrols on the water with boats and the shoreline with vehicles, the South Walton Fire District said in an update Saturday. Both attacks on Friday took place in Walton County.

“Please swim safely today, respect the Gulf, stay hydrated and look out for your loved ones,” firefighters said on social media.

Red and purple flags were used Saturday to warn swimmers of the dangers.

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“Purple flags indicate the presence of dangerous marine life and red flags indicate high risk conditions,” the Bay County Sheriff's Office explained in a social post on Saturday social.

Small fish move in schools near the shore at this time of year, which may have contributed to the attacks, the sheriff's office said.

The first attack occurred Friday afternoon when a woman was bitten by a shark near WaterSound Beach, the Walton County Sheriff's Office said. She suffered serious injuries to her stomach and arm, and part of her arm had to be amputated, South Walton Fire Chief Ryan Crawford said during a press briefing. She was airlifted to a trauma center.

Less than two hours later, firefighters responded to another beach about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) away. The first attack was “following multiple reports of a teenage girl injured by a shark,” the sheriff's office said.

Two teenage girls were in waist-deep water with a group of friends when they were attacked, the South Walton Fire District said.

“When rescuers and police arrived on scene, they discovered that one of the women had serious injuries to her leg and hand,” the firefighters said in a statement. She was airlifted to a trauma center. The other teen had what authorities described as minor injuries to one of her feet.

Both teens are from Mountain Brook, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham, Mountain Brook City Manager Sam Gaston told the news site Al.com.

“It is very unusual for two of these incidents to occur on the same day,” Mr Crawford said.

Time of the attacks – mid-afternoon — noon — was also an anomaly, Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson said. He noted that police often warn people to beware of sharks in the early morning and at dusk, when they usually feed.

On Saturday, police from Walton County patrolling the waters aboard a boat spotted a four-meter hammerhead shark near Santa Rosa Beach, which they say is not unusual.

“We want to reiterate that sharks are still present in the Gulf,” the Sheriff’s Office warned in a social media post Saturday. Swimmers and beachgoers should use caution when swimming and stay aware of their surroundings. »

Also Friday in Hawaii, a woman was seriously injured in an apparent shark attack in waters off the island of Oahu, authorities said.

Shark attacks are rare, experts say. Last year, there were 69 unprovoked bites worldwide, and 10 of them were fatal, according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File database. This is more than the recent average of six deaths per year.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116