Shark bites swimmer at Grayton Beach State Park in case of 'mistaken indentity'

Special to the Northwest Florida Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK

GRAYTON BEACH — A young adult suffered a shark bite to the chest while swimming at Grayton Beach State Park on Thursday, according to a news release from the South Walton Fire District

SWFD Beach Safety and Advanced Life Support (ALS) Units responded to park about about 2:30 p.m. after receiving a 911 report of a young adult suffering from a shark bite wound.

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Lifeguards at Tower 22 responded to a shark bite involving a swimmer in the area of Grayton Beach State Park on June 17, 2021.

SWFD’s lifeguard stationed at Tower 22 made initial contact with the victim, assessed the upper body and chest injuries, then continued to provide care until ALS arrived. Rescuers reported that the victim was in stable condition before being taken to a local medical facility for further treatment.

SWFD Beach Safety Director David Vaughan has spoken to the victim and family and determined this instance was a case of “mistaken identity,” the release said.

According to witnesses, the victim was swimming about 40 yards from shore when a shark 7 to 8 feet long approached a nearby fishing line. In a moment of confusion, the shark mistakenly bit the swimmer and then swam away.

SWFD launched a drone following the incident but was unable to identify any sharks remaining in the area. Beach Safety units also temporarily changed flags in the area to double red for one hour after the attack as a precaution.

Vaughan issued a reminder to all residents and visitors along the Gulf Coast that dangerous marine life are present year-round. He urged people to use extreme caution when swimming in red flag conditions.