JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man who was severely injured in the waters off Jacksonville Beach on Saturday might have been bitten by a shark, lifeguards told News4JAX. They said they did not see a shark in the water so they can’t confirm that is what injured the man.
Robert Alexander told News4JAX he heard people screaming near the 10th Avenue South area of the beach around noon Saturday and saw the man in the water waving his hand for help.
A lifeguard rushed to help the man, rescuers said.
Alexander, who also rushed out into the water, described seeing a lot of blood and within 10 feet he could see a 6- to 7-foot shadow of what could have been a shark in the water.
“I started splashing, making a lot of loud noises and next thing I know it was kind of tunnel vision, and I grabbed him, put him on his boogie board,” Alexander said.
Alexander described the man’s shin down to his foot as being “pretty much in shreds” and said others including additional lifeguards and a registered nurse helped the man.
“His foot was dangling as we were carrying him to shore. You could tell he had no movement in his foot,” Alexander recounted. “I kept telling him to keep eye contact with me.”
Kevin Mackey, a lifeguard lieutenant with Jax Beach Ocean Rescue, also responded to the scene. Ocean Rescue considers this situation a “possible shark bite” since lifeguards did not see the shark themselves.
“I was directing lifeguards. I told them to apply pressure to the wound. We took his vital signs,” Mackey said.
The man is currently in the hospital being treated for what lifeguards described as “severe injuries.”
Just miles away at Neptune Beach, a News4JAX viewer spotted two sharks swimming in shallow water on Saturday.
Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue Officer Maxwell Ervanian said his crew typically gets calls of “possible shark bites” only once or twice a year.
Ervanian encourages people to use “situational awareness” any time they are in the water.
“You want to look for those bait pods that are moving very quickly in the water that would show kind of a darker shade moving fast in the water,” Ervanian said. “With sharks, they don’t necessarily travel in packs. So if you see one fin, that is more of an indication of a shark than if you were to see a couple of fins. That would more likely be dolphins.”
Ervanian said never hesitate to get out of the water if you see something that worries you and do your best to remain calm in any urgent situation.