KEY POINTS

  • Andrew Eddy was saved from a bull shark by his wife, Margot Dukes-Eddy, and flown to a hospital. His condition was not released
  • Bull sharks are among the most likely to bite humans due to shared swimming spots
  • Attacks remain rare, especially in southern Florida where waters are calm and accidental physical contact is less likely

Andrew Eddy had only just gotten into the water when an 8-foot bull shark rammed him and bit into his shoulder. Eddy's pregnant wife, Margot Dukes-Eddy, immediately jumped into the water and helped her husband back onto their boat, the Miami Herald reports.

Eddy was airlifted to Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital for treatment. His condition was not released.

Boaters reported that earlier Sunday, a bull shark 8 or 9 feet long had been spotted. Eddy was on the water with his wife’s family around 10:30 a.m. when the attack occurred. Others were already in the water, including his father- and sister-in-law and unrelated snorkelers. Nobody was fishing or using chum, Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Aguanno said.

Bull Shark A large bull shark was caught by two fishermen in the Georges River in Sydney on Monday. In this photo, a bull shark swims at the Ocearium in Le Croisic, western France, on Dec. 6, 2016. Photo: Getty Images/ LOIC VENANCE

Shark attacks are a rare occurrence, especially in southern Florida. Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, has reported 17 confirmed shark attacks since 1882. Counties further north have seen drastically higher numbers, the highest being Volusia County with 312 and Brevard County with 150 during the same period. 

George Burgess, former director of the International Shark Attack File, told the Herald the difference was due to terrain and human activities. The most common reason sharks bite is confusion upon being struck, which is more likely in areas where surfing or swimming in waves are common. The calmer sand bars of Southern Florida make for a less chaotic environment.

Locals responding to the story seemed well aware of the differing risk factors.

 

National Geographic places bull sharks among the three sharks most likely to bite humans for the same reasons Burgess does: They like to swim in the same waters humans do and have even been known to swim up rivers. Shared proximity leads to more frequent bites due to confusion or curiosity. 

The National Wildlife Federation says specialized glands allow sharks to stay in fresh water, with sightings as far inland as the Mississippi and Amazon rivers. 

Still, it’s possible that humans pose a much greater threat to sharks than vice versa. National Geographic notes bull sharks are hunted widely and says their numbers are “likely shrinking. … One study has found that their average lengths have declined significantly over the past few decades.”

With additional threats from coastal pollution and habitat destruction, bull sharks are rated as "near threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.