Teen attacked by 5-foot shark in Florida, survives with 80 stitches

(Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office)

DESTIN, Fla. (AP) – A teenager needed 80 stitches after a shark attack in the waters off Florida’s Panhandle, but was able to punch the shark as it bit her in a bid to fend it off.

Caitlyn Taylor, 17, of Louisville, Kentucky, was visiting Destin, Florida, with her high school softball team.

She was in waist-deep water at about 3:30 p.m. when a 5-foot-long shark attacked her, witnesses told the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s office. The species of shark hasn’t been determined.

“Caitlyn says she initially thought it was a dolphin in the water,” the sheriff’s office said. “It was in a wave headed towards her. She says it took her by the legs, tugged on her, and immediately turned her loose.”

Sgt. Jason Fulghum of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said the girl suffered puncture bite wounds to her right leg and scrapes on her left leg. He said it wasn’t clear what kind of shark bit her, but authorities said that it was about 5 feet long.

The incident happened as the girl swam near the second sandbar from the beach.

A tourist told the newspaper he saw blood running from the teen’s thigh as two friends helped her out of the water.

The Florida Museum of Natural History, which documents shark attacks worldwide, says it’s the fourth documented attack off Okaloosa County beaches since 1882. None of the attacks were fatal.

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