So far this month, there have been three shark attacks reported in Monroe County, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Kevin Blanco, 20, is an avid fisherman. Last Thursday, he, along with two friends, went to a regular spear-fishing spot like any other summer day.
“I saw a dream fish of mine, so I shot the fish and the fish got tangled all up in the rocks,” shared Blanco in his hospital bed. “And I came to the surface and I told my buddies this fish is stuck. We need to get it out as soon as possible.”
Knowing the blood could attract a shark, Blanco used the buddy system with friends to go 70 feet deep to try and retrieve the fish.
That’s when the unthinkable happened.
“When I let go of the rock to come back up to the surface, the shark just blindsided me, bit me in the leg twice, my left outer leg,” shows Blanco.
What’s believed to be a bull shark left Blanco injured. Without air, his friends came to the rescue, helping him swim to the surface and getting him on the boat.
As one called 911, the other made a tourniquet that helped save Blanco’s life.
“Without him, it would’ve been bad,” Blanco said.
And less than 48 hours after Blanco’s attack, deputies said a 35-year-old in Summerland Key was also attacked after a shark that was reportedly out of the water and on a fishing dock bit him in the foot.
One expert said it’s hard to tell if these events mean they are becoming more frequent.
“You can’t say just because we have had three bites this month, that means this is an unusual event. It could just mean that person’s unlucky for whatever reason,” said Yannis Papastamatiou, associate professor at Florida International University.
Papastamatiou said it’s hard to determine the driving force behind these shark encounters, but he emphasized that sharks are in South Florida waters year-round.
He said if you are in the water, it’s important to be vigilant: be in a group, and if you see a shark, get out of the water.
“These are spectacular animals, and I realize not everyone may like them, and not everyone appreciates them, but the fact is they have a very important role, and in most places, they have more to fear from us than vice versa,” Papastamatiou said.
He added, “We are starting to see perhaps evidence of the shark population coming up in Florida, but that’s a good thing…sharks in the water is a sign of a healthy ocean.”
Those, like Blanco said, getting bit was always in the back of his mind.
“Never did I think it would happen to me, but when I got bit, it was like, wow,” he said.
But even with the injuries, he’s lucky. Blanco is expected to make a full recovery, able to now make light of a scary situation.
“My friends are a little shaken up about being on the water, so if I get back with them, it’s almost going to be like, ‘Okay, it’s fine.’”
With a laugh, he shared, “Who’s going to get bit by a shark twice? Right? So, it’s almost like get back as soon as possible and enjoy it like we used to before I got bit.”
Blanco is expected to be released from the hospital as soon as Tuesday and said he hopes to get out on the water as soon as possible.
Top 5 florida keys shark attack Synthesized by BSS news
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