‘I ran out screaming’: 11-year-old bitten by shark in knee-deep water

Unusual Stories

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (ABC NEWS) — An 11-year-old Canadian boy was bitten in an apparent shark attack while on summer vacation in Florida, escaping with only “very minor” injuries, according to officials.

Christian Mariani said he was in about knee-deep water on his way out of the ocean when “the shark came and bit my right foot.”

“It almost felt like human teeth. I felt it clamp down and then it let go… and then I ran out screaming,” Christian told reporters from the hospital on Wednesday. “It was really scary because I knew something bit me, but the fear of not knowing what bit you and what’s gonna happen to your foot after, that’s the scariest feeling that I think I have ever experienced in my life.”

Christian was at a Fort Lauderdale beach Wednesday morning when what appeared to be a small shark attacked him, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Chief Stephen Gollan told ABC News.

Christian Mariani spoke to the press after being attacked by a shark. Photo: WPLG via ABC

Christian, who was in the water with his dad and older brother, said he didn’t see it beforehand.

He suffered a “very minor” puncture wound to his right foot and was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Gollan said.

“It was pretty painful. Like, really painful,” Christian told reporters. “I’m feeling fine. It’s not like it still hurts or anything like that.”

Christian Mariani spoke to the press after being attacked by a shark. Photo: WPLG via ABC

Christian needed 17 stitches and is expected to be discharged Wednesday, doctors said.

“I feel more lucky than unlucky,” Christian said. “I know it’s a very low chance to get bit by a shark, but to be in the condition I am right now, that is also very lucky.”

An 11-year-old boy needed 17 stitches after he was bitten on the foot by a shark in Florida, Aug. 21, 2019. PHOTO: Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Department via ABC

This was the first shark attack Gollan was aware of in Fort Lauderdale this year.

He said the shark likely mistook the boy’s toes as small fish.

“This time of year we see a lot of bait fish that are moving down the coast,” Gollan said.

And when there are more small fish, there are more bigger fish — like sharks — too, he added.

“Sometimes they see a toe and they think it’s another small fish they’re going after,” he said of the sharks.

A great white shark is seen here in this undated stock photo. Photo: STOCK PHOTO/Shutterstock via ABC

Christian seemed to agree.

As for why the shark quickly unlatched from his foot, Christian said, “I don’t know. Maybe it thought it was something else, then it realized and let go.”

Christian said once he’s healed he’ll probably go back in the water.

Click here for tips on how to stay safe from sharks.

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