A swimmer was injured by a possible shark bite off Miami Beach Saturday.
The victim, who sustained a bite to his lower calf and suffered “heavy bleeding,” according to Miami Beach Ocean Rescue, was transported by ambulance to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The incident took place in water near 22nd Street, behind the W Hotel on South Beach.
“He didn’t actually see what it was,” Miami Beach Fire Department spokesman Adonis Garcia told HuffPost. “He felt it — he was looking at what he said was a school of tarpon and all of a sudden [he was bitten]. We’re assuming it was either a small shark or barracuda, but that’s an assumption.”
Witness Hilario Herrera was on the beach when the man was bitten in front of his wife and daughter, according to CBS Miami.
“We started hearing somebody yell, ‘Help!'” Herrera said. “I see a man swimming and he’s covered full of blood… Once we pulled him out, I seen he was bitten on his legs and he was bleeding…he was really bleeding.”
It is not yet known if the man, whom Ocean Rescue described as in his 40s, is a resident or tourist.
Though calls are routinely made from hotel and condo towers in the area when any large fish or “fin activity” is spotted, an Ocean Rescue official said the department has not received a single call concerning a shark — nor had any lifeguards on shore sighted a shark in the “gin-clear” water, which was at the time teeming with bait fish including multiple large schools of mullett.
A rescue boat in the area within minutes found no trace of any culprit. Swimmers have not been warned off the beach nor alerted to any heightened threat, the official confirmed.
According to the International Shark Attack File, there have been only 11 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks in Dade County waters since 1882, with the only fatality recorded in 1961.
Barracudas bites are rare, but not unheard of in Florida. A fourth-grade girl was bitten by a barracuda off Key West in 2010, requiring surgery after the fish took a huge chunk from her palm. That same year, a 14-year-old southwest Florida girl received 51 stitches on bite marks from her elbow to wrist after a barracuda lept onto her family’s boat.