Texas
3:58 pm
Tue July 12, 2011

Beaches Safe after Shark Bite Incident

A 12-year-old boy was bitten on the foot by a shark near Port O’Conner Thursday. It is the second shark bite incident in Texas year, according to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Lance Robinson directs the department’s coastal fisheries division on Galveston Bay. He told KUT News that it takes a boat to get to the isolated area of the beach where the boy was. It’s unclear what the boy was doing when the incident occurred, Robinson added.

On May 30, a 22-year-old woman was bitten in the knee at a beach near Surfside Beach. Robinson said Texas goes years without shark bite incidents, and beachgoers shouldn’t fear the water despite these two injuries.

“Certainly to the person that gets bit, it’s important to them, but overall the risk is pretty low,” he said.

According to the International Shark Attack File, the last fatal shark attack in Texas was in 1962. Robinson says that’s because sharks aren’t interested in preying on humans.

“When a shark grabs a hold of something they’re going to eat, they grab on and thrash back and forward,” he said. “We don’t see that in these cases. A shark will take a bite, an exploratory bite, and when they realize it’s not what they’re expecting, they back off. Once they back off, though, it still has done damage.”

People who visit gulf beaches can reduce risk by taking precautions, he added. Avoid swimming in the early morning and late afternoon, when sharks are feeding; don’t swim in areas where fisherman are using bait fish; and avoid wearing jewelry in the water, because sharks can mistake the shine of metal for fish scales.