ST. AUGUSTINE BEACh, Fla. – A Putnam County woman is getting around on crutches Thursday, just one day after she was bitten on the foot by a shark while surfing south of the St. Augustine Beach Pier.
Kerry Keyton, of Palatka, said she has been surfing for at least 12 years and has seen only two sharks. She was paddling out Wednesday and didn't see the one that bit her, so she doesn't know how big it was, but felt its teeth sink into her foot.
"I was off my board in the water and I was trying to get back on my board and something just hit me. It felt like my foot was just like, in a hole, which didn’t make sense," Keyton said. "I got back up on my board and I was kind of afraid it was going to come after me again, so I knew I just needed to paddle and get out of there, so I just started praying."
She said she got to shore and asked a child to call a lifeguard.
"I didn’t look at my foot because I was afraid I would panic," Keyton said.
St. Johns County Fire Rescue took Keyton to Flagler Hospital, where she got 28 stitches. She was treated and released.
Keyton is up and getting around on crutches. She said she will surf again, but not for a while.
Keyton is the first person bitten by a shark along northeast Florida beaches this year. Last year, there were seven shark bites in the coastal waters along Nassau, Duval, St. Johns and Flagler counties.
There are some ways swimmers can protect themselves in the ocean. George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File for the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, a world renowned shark expert said:
- There is some evidence that shows sharks may be attracted to tattoos, toe nail polish, and yellow or white bathing suits.
- Don't swim in the ocean between dusk and dawn
- Get out of the water if you ever see sea gulls diving for fish, or see a school of fish swimming nearby.
- Chances are something bigger is chasing it.
- And avoid wearing jewelry.