Shark Bites Teenager's Chest in Case of 'Mistaken Identity'

A shark bit a teenager in the chest off the coast of Florida on Thursday in a case of what authorities called "mistaken identity."

The incident occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, in the waters off Grayton Beach State Park in the northwestern part of the state, South Walton Fire District (SWFD) said in a statement on Facebook.

Authorities said the 14-year-old was swimming around 40 yards from the shore when a shark estimated to measure 7 to 8 feet in length approached heading for a nearby fishing line. The shark then "mistakenly bit the swimmer," according to the fire district.

SWFD Beach Safety and Advanced Life Support (ALS) Units responded to the park at around 2:30 p.m. local time on Thursday after receiving reports of a potential shark bite wound.

"SWFD's first contact with the victim points to this incident being a case of 'mistaken identity' as they were swimming near a fishing line when bitten," the fire district said in a statement on Twitter.

Officials said the victim had visible bite wounds to the upper body and chest area but is in stable condition and is expected to recover.

"While the preliminary 911 call came in as a potential shark attack, paramedics report the victim suffered from an apparent single bite to the upper body, indicating the mistaken identity rather than a violent attack."

Eventually, the teenager was taken to a local hospital to receive further treatment. Beach safety officials decided to fly double red flags as a precaution following the incident to warn people and advise them not to swim.

"We would like to remind the public that the Gulf of Mexico is home to dangerous marine life year-round," the fire district said.

Officials launched a drone following the incident but SWFD was unable to identify any sharks remaining in the area. The species involved has yet to be determined.

The Walton County Sheriff's Office said it was called in regard to the incident.

"The juvenile was assessed on scene for a superficial bite wound and was transported to a local hospital," the sheriff's office said in a statement posted to Facebook. "It seems the shark did not latch on once figuring out it was biting a human."

"This post is not to create fear or wreak havoc. Sharks live in the water. That is their home. We're making the public aware so that they may use caution when swimming in the water—where sharks live—near the site. Again, the wounds are not life-threatening."

Newsweek has contacted South Walton Fire District for comment.

South Walton Fire District emergency responder
Image showing an emergency responder from the South Walton Fire District. A teen was treated for non-life-threatening injuries after being bitten by a shark in the waters off Grayton Beach State Park, Florida. South Walton Fire District