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The girl had been looking for scallops close to Keaton Beach in Taylor County, northern Florida, when she was bitten by a shark in five feet deep water on Thursday, according to a statement by the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook.
Coming to the girl’s aid, a family member rushed to her side and started hitting the shark until it swam off. The girl’s age has not been revealed publicly. She was airlifted to a hospital in Tallahassee with “serious injuries.”
On those injuries, Taylor County Sheriff Wayne Padgett told CBS affiliate WCTV that the girl had gone into surgery and lost her leg, but is expected to survive.
The office’s statement continued on to warn “swimmers and scallopers” to be “alert, vigilant, and practice shark safety”.
“Some rules to follow are: never swim alone, do not enter the water near fishermen, avoid areas such as sandbars (where sharks like to congregate), do not swim near large schools of fish, and avoid erratic movements while in the water,” the office added.
It hasn’t been reported what kind of shark attacked the girl, but it was described as being around nine feet in length. Though, the three kinds of sharks responsible for the most unprovoked attacks globally are the great white shark, the tiger shark, and the bull shark -- all of which can be well over nine feet long.
In the waters off the East Coast, as well as the Gulf of Mexico, dozens of shark types can be found.
Sharks can be found on both the US East and West Coasts. Florida is the state with the largest number of unprovoked shark attacks in the US, reporting almost 900 attacks since 1837, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum.
No other state comes close – Hawaii is second with 182 and California is third with 132.
The file also shows Florida at the top of the global list of reported shark bites, with 38 per cent of unprovoked bites in the world in 2021 being reported in the state.
Florida has reported on average 25 incidents each year over the last half-decade.
The International Shark Attack File shows that the number of attacks seems to be going down. While shark attacks remain a possible hazard, lighting strikes lead to more fatal incidents on an annual basis.