Florida Shark Attack Victim Walked Home While 'Bleeding to Death'

A 39-year-old man has been hospitalized after being bitten by a shark in the waters off Siesta Key in the Gulf of Mexico.

He reportedly walked home after the attack, which took place on Tuesday morning, after suffering wounds to his hand and his arm.

A woman called 911 upon discovering his injuries at 8.24am local time, and had him taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where his status and the severity of his injuries have not yet been disclosed due to patient privacy.

In the 911 call, which has been heard by Fox 13 News Tampa Bay, the woman says they need help "right away" because the man is "bleeding to death."

The victim was still conscious at the time that the call was made, and the woman can be heard making attempts to reassure him, telling him "Everything's going to be fine," as the dispatcher explains how to control the bleeding.

Unprovoked shark attacks are very rare in the waters off Siesta Key, with just seven unprovoked shark attacks having been recorded off the coast of Sarasota County since 1882, according to the Florida Museum's International Shark Attack File.

In fact, shark attacks are a rarity all along Florida's west coast, with incidents tending to be concentrated in the waters off Volusia and Brevard on the east coast.

However, the waters off Florida are home to a wide array of sharks, including bull sharks, tiger sharks, great hammerheads, lemon sharks, black tip sharks and reef sharks.

Florida was the shark attack capital of the world in 2019, with 21 of the 64 unprovoked attacks that were confirmed worldwide in 2019 having taken place off the coast of the Sunshine State.

There were 41 confirmed unprovoked attacks in U.S. waters, and the Florida attacks made up for more than half of these.

However, the 2019 worldwide total of 64 was lower than the most recent five-year average of 82 annual incidents recorded from 2014 to 2018, and Florida's most recent five-year average was 32 incidents per year.

"The number of human-shark interactions is strongly correlated with time spent by humans in the sea," the Florida Museum's International Shark Attack File said in its 2019 report.

"As the human population continues to expand, and interest in outdoor aquatic recreational activities increases, the frequency of shark attacks will likely rise."

It added: "Following recent trends, surfers and those participating in board sports accounted for most incidents (53% of the total cases). This group spends a large amount of time in the surf zone, an area commonly frequented by sharks, and may unintentionally attract sharks by splashing, paddling, and 'wiping out'.

"Swimmers and waders accounted for 25% of incidents, with remaining incidents divided between snorkelers/free divers (11%), body-surfers (8%), and scuba divers (3%)."

Sharks swimming off the Florida coast
A stock image shows an aerial view of sharks off the Florida coast. A 39-year-old swimmer has been hospitalized after being bitten by a shark at Siesta Key.