FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – A man and a teenager were hospitalized with shark bites Friday afternoon, the Fernandina Beach Fire Department said.
Dustin Theobald told paramedics he was surfing with his 8-year-old son about 3:30 p.m. near Seaside Park on South Fletcher Avenue. The 30-year-old was bitten by what he thought was either a nurse shark or a black tip shark.
“I was in 2 feet of water, or less, lying on my stomach, watching him just playing in the surf and I felt something grab onto my foot and pull," Theobald recounted to News4Jax later in the evening from a hospital bed. "I reached down for my foot. I put my hand on his head -- he was probably 4-5 feet (long) -- and when I did that, he shook twice and when I did that he released and left.”
According to a Fernandina Beach Police Department report, Theobald had several lacerations and puncture wounds to his right foot. He was taken to Baptist Medical Center Nassau to receive treatment for the injuries, which were described as being non-life-threatening.
Theobald said he didn't feel the pain from the shark bite until he got to the hospital.
"It looks like I might have some tendon damage," he said. "But it's cut, it's bad. It's 4-inch lacerations on the top and bottom."
Within minutes of the first call, the rescue got a call that a 17-year-old was bitten on the foot while wading in shallow water near the Surf Restaurant, just over 1 mile south of the first incident. He did not see the shark that bit him.
A fire department spokesman said the teen was taken to UF Health in Jacksonville with non-life-threatening puncture wounds to his foot.
Fernandina Beach Fire Department ordered people out of the water due to potential dangerous marine life. Double-red flags were posted and would remain up through at least Saturday morning. But the flags have since come down and people can now go in the water.
The fire department's Division of Ocean Rescue and Nassau County deputies were patrolling the beaches.
It’s unknown if the man and the teen were bitten by the same shark.
"I’ve never been worried about them, never been scared of them, we’ve seen them out there when we’re surfing," said Theobald, who has lived in Fernandina Beach his life. "I think it was just the luck of the draw -- being in murky water and just bad timing.”
Though it might be awhile before he gets back in the water, Theobald said he's not going to let the shark bite keep him from surfing and he's just glad the shark bit him and not his son.
Theobald was taken to another hospital in Jacksonville to undergo surgery Friday night. He said he would also be getting stitches on his foot.
According to News4Jax records, there have been three shark bites so far this year in the Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia area. Last year, there were three reported shark bites in that area. There were seven locally recorded shark bites in 2016.