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I Witnessed a "Shark" Attack!

Updated on July 29, 2010

About ten years ago, husband Johnny and I were spending a couple of weeks at one of our favorite spots – Amelia Island, Florida. Amelia is in the Atlantic and is the state’s northernmost island and beaches. When we visit the island, we almost always stay at the Amelia-by-the-Sea condos because of their private fishing pier. We spend most of our time on the pier and have made friends with other vacationers we seem to run into year after year. Many are fellow anglers.

One such pal is Phil. We had met and made friends with Phil a couple of years earlier on the pier as we were all fishing for flounder. On this eventful trip, Phil and I witnessed something that I consider pretty amazing. The experience was a perfectly natural phenomenon, but I would imagine it’s fairly rare, just the same.

Phil and I were fishing about halfway out on the pier. It was a beautiful summer day, and we were leaning on the pier railing bobbing our live mullet minnows under the wooden structure in hopes of enticing a flatfish to bite. In the water just beyond us were two boys sitting on their surfboards. The kids were probably 12 or 13 years old, and we were complaining about their trying to surf so near the pier when they had miles of ocean in which to enjoy their sport.

As we were talking, a huge dark fish-shaped creature came up from the water and seemed to attack one of the boys. This was one of the strangest sights I had ever seen. I knew I was seeing it, but it was hard for me to wrap my mind around it. The fish pushed the kid under, and his friend paddled frantically for shore, yelling “Shark!” at the top of his lungs. Everyone on the beach came running, of course.

Within just a couple of seconds, the attacked boy surfaced, sputtering for air. He managed to get back on his board, and soon others were in the water to help him to shore. When he reached the beach, he collapsed on the sand. Shortly an ambulance arrived to take the boy away.

Phil and I continued to watch the area where the attack had occurred. The “fish” surfaced again, and we got a good look at it. It was charcoal gray in color, with a length of about 14-15 feet. I noticed it had a very small dorsal fin, which I thought was very un-shark like. As I continued watching, I finally saw the animal’s tail. The tail was horizontal instead of vertical, indicating that it wasn’t a shark, at all. It was a marine mammal.

We later got the scoop from a friend with a police scanner. She told us that she’s heard on the scanner just a few minutes before the event that a pilot whale had been seen just beyond the beach at the Ritz-Carlton, and that it was swimming north, parallel to the shore. That would have put our pier directly in the whale’s path. Our “shark” was in actuality a short-finned pilot whale.

You might remember seeing footage on the news a few years ago of a pilot whale attacking a woman. It held her in its mouth and took her deep beneath the surface of the water. She survived, but the experience shook her up, of course. In the case we witnessed, however, I don’t think the whale was attacking the surfer. The boy was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. When the whale surfaced for air, the boy was in the way and subsequently got pushed under when the whale submerged again.

I totally understand why the youth thought he was being attacked by a shark. I had a great view of the entire event, and if I hadn’t observed the creature’s dorsal fin and tail, I would have thought it to be a shark, also.

Later that afternoon, we asked around to find out how the boy was doing. He was fine and basically free of injury. He did have a rope burn on his leg from his surfboard leash that had wrapped around his calf when the whale pushed him under. I’d say he was pretty lucky – a great story to tell his pals and no real injuries!

 

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    • profile image

      SilverGenes 6 years ago

      Wow - that's quite a story. It must have been pretty scary for the boy and for all those watching from the pier! It's very lucky for all concerned that it wasn't a shark. What a thrill it must be to be the camera person on a video like this - they are beautiful creatures! Thanks for sharing this :)

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Silver, if I'd had my camera handy, I'm not sure I would have had the presence of mind to use it!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Yikes! Very scary, but lucky for a good outcome!

    • bayoulady profile image

      bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Just when you thought it was safe......grin ;>)

      I enjoyed the read. rate up!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Lizzy, it was very scary!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Many thanks, Bayou!

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Interesting story. Glad it had a happy ending. (:v

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Me, too, Val!

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 6 years ago

      I'm impressed you were so observant during such a scary time.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for showing me a world I will never know. Great read.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Makes me wonder who surprised who more? I'll bet that pilot whale had a "moment", too!

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 6 years ago from Scotland

      Nice Hub habee

      Must have been scary for the boy. Proves how vulnerable we are in the water. The sea-life are in charge there for sure, it's their natural environment after all.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      What a frightening and unbelievable story. I think I'll stay out of the ocean for a while.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      That is why I say, Give me the Mediterranean every time. Nothing to be afraid of, ever. You know that you will go into the water and nothing will attack you :-)))

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      I bet you have your camera on the ready since then... videos you never know what you'll get and imagine the hub that would make... :)

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      sheila, it's like it was happening in slow motion!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      glad you enjoyed it, HH!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      sherri, I'm sure you're right! lol

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Kicker, that's why I don't like to go out too deep!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Bpop, this time next week, I'll be enjoying the ocean! Well, the Gulf.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Greek, why aren't there any sharks there??

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Oh, Katie, I would give a pretty penny to have it on video!

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 6 years ago from Northern California

      What a lovely marine animal--interesting story!

    • G L Strout profile image

      G L Strout 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Neat story! Thanks. I think we have to remember we are visiting THEIR world and we need to watch out for them. Beautiful animals.

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 6 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Great story with a good outcome. Could have been a disaster. Glad it had a happy ending!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      Great story. I am so glad it wasn't a shark. I bet the boy was traumatized anyway but at least not hurt.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Wow what a story. I am so glad no one was gravely injured of worse, killed. Thanks for sharing.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Beautifully told tale, Holle. Not any old fish tale, either! If anything in the water pulled me under, I'm pretty sure I'd think it was a shark.

      Scary stuff!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

      How frightening - but HOW AWESOME! I would have just had a heart attack on the spot - the victim or the observer! I tend to overreact - no way! We did a kayak outing years ago over on San Juan Island looking for Orca whales. I was SO jazzed because we saw them all the time on land. However, being in that kayak and THAT LOW on the water....a seal surfaced next to me and I almost capsized the boat with Bob and I in it - almost whacked his head off with the paddle to boot! It scared me about half out of my skull - can you IMAGINE what would have happened had an Orca surfaced right in front of me or beside me? I would not be here writing the tale! As usual, lovely tale! Or was that tail?

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      We eat them :-)))

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Garnet, whales are beautiful!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      GL, you are so right! Many forget this.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Judy, glad you enjoyed it!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Pam, had it happened to me, I'd still be having nightmares!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      You're very welcome, KKgals!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Laurel, it was really amazing to witness!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Buckie, stay away from those orcas! Those things are huge!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      No, no, no, Greek! They're not for eating!

    • profile image

      Baileybear 6 years ago

      surreal!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Bailey - that's the perfect word for this "shark attack"!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Habee, very scary stuff. I was scared right at the beginning for the poor little live mullet minnows. Poor things.

      What a good tale you've told. I like happy endings.

      The part where you mentioned the pilot whale attacking a woman a few years back and holding her down, makes me remember the whale, black and white, orca (?) that has done the same thing now two or three times. The first trainer she (or he) killed was in Victoria, BC when we lived there in the 1990's. It's absurd that any company is paying employees to do the training again with the same whale.

    • lilly_dens profile image

      lilly_dens 6 years ago

      That's scary..Good thing it wasn't a shark but it did scare the boy out

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Really, Pamela - what are they thinking?? They couldn't pay me enough to get in the water with that orca!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Lilly, it really was amazingly frightening! BTW, love your avatar pic!

    • nancy_30 profile image

      nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

      Very interesting story. I would have been scared to death. I'm glad the boy wasn't hurt.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Nancy, I think I was too much in shock to be scared!

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      This was absolutely fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Glad you liked it, AA!

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