Shark attacks girls in shallow water on same day woman loses arm

Chief Ryan Crawford of Walton County Sheriff’s Office giving an update on the attacks (Picture: WCSOFL/X)

Beaches had to be closed and boats sent out to warn swimmers after a shark bit off a woman’s arm on the same day two girls were attacked.

The three people were hurt in Florida on Friday, with the first victim critically hurt.

It is ‘highly unusual’ to have so many attacks in the space of just an hour and a half, authorities said.

The first attack happened near WaterSound Beach in Walton County, on the state’s Gulf Coast.

A woman had critical injuries on her midsection and arm, and part of her arm had to be amputated, South Walton Fire chief Ryan Crawford said at a news briefing.

Less than two hours later, there were ‘multiple reports of a teenager injured by a shark’ four miles east of the first attack, the sheriff’s office said.

Two girls aged around 15 had been in waist-deep water with a group of friends when they were attacked.

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There are patrols on the beaches warning of the danger (Picture: WCSOFL/X)

The Sheriff’s Office Beach Marine Unit boat has also been monitoring the shoreline (Picture: WCSOFL/X)

It is unusual have three attacks so close together, and in the middle of the day (Picture: WCSOFL/X)

Fire officials said in an update: ‘When lifeguards and deputies arrived on scene, they found one of the females had significant injuries to the upper leg and one hand.’

The other teenager had what officials described as minor injuries on one of her feet.

The beaches reopened on Saturday, but red and purple flags were in place warning of high hazards.

South Walton Fire District said: ‘Please swim carefully today, respect the Gulf, stay hydrated, and look out for your loved ones.’

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office said in a social media post on Saturday: ‘Purple Flags indicate the presence of dangerous marine life and single red flags indicate high hazard conditions.’

Small fish are travelling in schools near the shore this time of year, which might have been a contributing factor in the attacks, they added.

Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson said that as well as the series of attacks, the timing in the middle of the afternoon, was also an anomaly,

He noted that officials often warn people to be aware of sharks early in the morning and at dusk, their typical feeding times.

Outside of Florida, a woman was seriously injured in an apparent shark attack in waters off the island of Oahu, Hawaii, officials said.

Shark attacks are rare, according to experts. There were 69 unprovoked bites last year worldwide, and 10 of those were fatal, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.

That was higher than the recent average of six deaths per year.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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