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Ouch! Woman in Florida Rushed to the Hospital with a Shark Attached to Her Arm

May 16, 2016 04:46 AM EDT
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A woman who was bitten by a shark off the coast of Boca Raton, Florida was taken to the hospital with the two-foot long animal still attached to her right arm.

The 23-year-old woman whose name was not released, was swimming with a group of friends at a beach at Red Reef Park in Boca Raton on Sunday afternoon when the small nurse shark latched onto her right forearm.

The baby nurse shark had been reportedly dead when the fire rescue arrived on the beach, but the animal's teeth remained firmly attached to the woman's arm. A splint board was used to support the dead shark's weight as the woman was taken on an ambulance to Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

"I have never seen anything like it. Never heard of anything like it," said Captain Clint Tracy of the Boca Raton Ocean Rescue team.

According to rescuers, the woman remained calm and there was little blood involved during the accident.

However, a witness on the beach said that the shark was provoked. Nate Patrick, 11, said that he saw the woman and her friends "holding the shark by its tail" and "messing with it" before the shark lashed out on them.

"Sharks are the most humane thing ever. So it wouldn't bite them if they hadn't been messing with it," Patrick explained.

Nurse sharks can grow up to 14 feet, are slow-moving and have typically strong jaws filled with razor-sharp, serrated teeth, which are used to crush shellfish and corals. They are generally considered harmless to humans, but once they are provoked or antagonized, they turn defensive and attack their aggressors.

Nurse sharks are common off the coast in Florida. According to the National Park Service, a nurse shark's bite reflex "is such that it may be some minutes before a quietly re-immersed nurse shark will relax and release its tormentor."

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