NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – A 9-year-old Neptune Beach boy returned to school this week after he was bitten by a shark in New Smyrna Beach over the Labor Day weekend.
Austin Moore said he received a warm welcome from his friend and classmates after missing a week of school to recover from the shark bite.
His mother told News4Jax that they had been attending a family reunion on Sept. 3 when her son was bitten while he was riding a boogie board with a group of kids.
Austin said he was in about chest-deep water in the Atlantic Ocean, and his younger siblings and cousins were in more shallow water, when he felt something grab his ankle.
At first, Austin said, he thought it was his uncle, until he turned around and saw blood.
Austin said it hurt, but his adrenaline was rushing at the time and he just started yelling for help as he made his way back to shore. He said a million thoughts were going through his head.
"Was I going to get stitches? How many stitches was I going to get? Stuff like that. Am I ever going to have to go to school again? When he was carrying me, I said, 'Am I ever going to have to go to school again? I hope not!'" Austin said.
Austin was then rushed to the hospital and given more than 80 stitches on his ankle and foot.
Less than a week later, he was able to return to school. Austin said his classmates were thrilled to see him and they had a lot of questions for him.
"People were asking me, 'Was it a great white shark?' I said, 'I wouldn't be here if it was a great white shark! Even if it was a baby, I wouldn't be here,'" Austin said.
Despite what happened to him, Austin said he's still a big fan of sharks.
"I still like sharks. It makes me even like sharks more. Now I know what it feels like. Now I know everything about sharks," he said.
In fact, Austin considers himself somewhat of a shark expert. He even has shark stuff all over his room.
"I have a shark encyclopedia. And then, on top of that, I have a sharkopedia," Austin said.
Austin said the best thing for people to do if they're bitten by a shark is to stay calm and yell for help.
He said his experience will not keep him out of the water.