Possible shark or fish bite reported on Hilton Head

rlurye@islandpacket.comMay 7, 2014 

— A beachgoer was bitten by a shark or fish while swimming Tuesday afternoon at Coligny Beach on Hilton Head Island, according to beach patrol and EMS.

Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division members called to the beach shortly before 3 p.m. arrived to find the patient in a chair being attended by beach patrol personnel, fire marshal Joheida Fister said.

The patient, who was conscious and alert, was taken to Hilton Head Hospital with a cut to the foot, according to Mike Wagner, operations manager for cqShore Beach Service. Further details about the patient or the patient’s condition were not available, Wagner and Fister said.

The bite victim was the first this season, Wagner said. The last confirmed shark attack on Hilton Head Island was in 2006, when a 7-year-old girl was bitten on her foot and buttocks at Coligny Beach. Another man said he required stitches that year after he was bitten at Singleton Beach, though that incident was not confirmed by authorities.

Before then, a shark bite had not been recorded since 2001.

Fister said witnesses reported seeing a shark in the water Tuesday, though Wagner said the beach patrol’s incident report made no mention of a shark.

“That would usually be in the report,” he said. “But if something bit somebody underwater, the odds of anyone seeing what it was aren’t very good.”

Still, Wagner plans to follow up with the Florida Museum of Natural History, which maintains the International Shark Attack File. The museum will determine whether it wants Wagner to report the incident, he said.

While some sharks and toothed fish can be found in Hilton Head’s waters, they are relatively small and difficult to see, Wagner said.

“You wouldn’t have to be in very deep water not to see something.”

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