St. Augustine, Neptune Beach surfers recovering from shark bites

Bitten in shallow water at midday Thursday, Friday

Author: Vic Micolucci, General assignment reporter, vic@wjxt.com
Published On: Sep 07 2012 05:39:03 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 08 2012 06:39:20 PM EDT
Surfing (GoPro shot)
NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. -

Three people who believe they were bitten by sharks on Northeast Florida beaches are recovering and talking about their encounters.

James Fyfe and Andrew Birchall -- both in their 30s and long-time surfers -- were in good spirits Friday despite their painful injuries.

Fyfe was cut on his calf while catching waves just before noon Thursday in waist deep water near South Street in Neptune Beach. 

"It wasn't really a clean hit, but it definitely caught the back of my calf," Fyfe said. "I reached down once I got up on my board, knew something was wrong -- felt a hole in my leg. There was blood everywhere."

Andrew Birchall Birchall (right) was surfing near D Street at St. Augustine Beach about 11:30 a.m.  when he apparently stepped on a shark and it took a bite out of his foot.

"Just caught a wave and rode it all the way through and jumped off by board and got hit," Birchall, said. "You could feel the teeth going in, and the pressure is amazing. It's like someone hit you in the foot with a sledgehammer."

Birchall shark bite Both had friends help them out of the water until rescuers got there. Both were taken to the hospital.

With a tooth still in his foot, Birchall needed surgery because his tendons were severed. He'll likely remain in Flagler Hospital through the weekend.

Fyfe's gash needed more than 20 stitches and he is recovering at home.

"Whatever this was, it was a pretty large shark because the cut was bone-deep from my calf, and it was about 5 inches long," Fyfe said.

James Fyfe Birchall's wife is at his side to help with his recovery. Fyfe (pictured right) says he hopes that once the gauze is off, the bite will work wonders for his dating life.

"Chicks dig scars," Fyfe said. "Maybe this will help me out."

Both say they'll be hesitant next time they're at the beach, but they'll eventually go back in the water.

Friday afternoon, Channel 4 viewer Leeina Binett said her fiance was bitten on the foot by a shark while swimming off St. Augustine Beach. She said he was in thigh high water.