Jameson Reeder Jr. was bitten by a shark on Saturday and authorities were called to the Looe Key reef to help him around 4:30 p.m., the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
Jameson, while vacationing with his parents and brother, ‘took a crushing blow below the knee’ from what the family believes was a bull shark while snorkeling along a shallow reef, his uncle Joshua Reeder said in a Facebook post.
Jameson clung to a noodle float as his family brought him back in a boat, and the family applied a tourniquet over the bite to slow the bleeding, the uncle wrote.
The family waved to a nearby faster boat, which had a nurse on board, the post said. The boat rushed Jameson to shore, where paramedics were waiting. A helicopter transported him to a children’s hospital in Miami, according to the uncle’s post.
“They had to remove/amputate just below the knee to save his life as he was not usable due to shark damage,” read the uncle’s post.
The bite came as the number of unprovoked shark attacks around the world appears to be stabilizing after rising over the past 30 years.
Last year, 73 unprovoked shark attacks were confirmed worldwide. This corresponds to a five-year average of 72 from 2016 to 2020, according to a January report from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File.
As usual, the majority of unprovoked attacks in 2021 (47) were reported in the United States. Florida had the most by one state (28), matching the state’s five-year average of 25, according to the museum.
Many attacks are “cases of mistaken identity”, occurring in conditions of poor visibility on the water, according to the museum. Many bites occur when humans swim in or near large schools of prey fish, Robert Hueter, chief scientist at shark data organization OCEARCH, told CNN this year.
“People are bitten but rarely eaten, and that tells us we’re off the shark menu,” Christopher Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at California State University Long Beach, told CNN this year.
Researchers are looking into whether certain factors could lead to shark attacks in another part of the United States – the Northeast – such as rising sea temperatures possibly pushing the fish that sharks eat further north and efforts conservation increasing the number of these baitfish out there. .
But Florida generally leads the United States in shark attacks, and most Florida attacks occur off the state’s Atlantic coast. Hueter attributed this to the Gulf Stream’s proximity to the shore, large waves, congestion of surfers and swimmers, and large schools of sharks in the area.