Shark attack caught on video: Teen bitten while surfing in Florida

ByWill Reeve WPVI logo
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Young surfer bitten by shark in Florida surf
New Smyrna Beach is known as the unofficial shark bite capital of the world.

NEW SMYRNA, Fla. -- A 16-year old surfer is speaking out after he was bitten in the arm near Daytona, Florida. The encounter was also caught on camera.

In a rare sighting, two sharks can be seen darting through the same wave with surfers just feet away.

One of those surfers was 16-year-old Doyle Nielson, seen in the blue shirt.

As he was paddling out to catch a wave while on vacation in Florida, one of the sharks swam up behind him, taking a bite out of his right arm.

'It felt like someone on their surfboard had come full speed directly at me and hit me super hard," Nielson said. "And then after somebody had yelled, 'there's a shark, get out of there,' I realized what it was.

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Thankfully, the shark let go and Nielson made it to shore safely, but the teen was left with a gnarly gash.

Sam Scribner, a photographer with a passion for surfing, happened to record the frightening moments.

"Doyle was right in the middle of my frame and the shark just hit him," Scribner said. "It was over in a matter of seconds, too. It's crazy how quickly it happened."

It happened along Florida's east coast at New Smyrna Beach, which is known as the unofficial shark bite capital of the world.

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With winds from Hurricane Larry promising strong surf, the beach was crowded with surfers and sharks.

"You throw in surfers in the middle of that surf and you're going to have an unholy mix that almost inevitably results in a bite," said George Burgess with the University of Florida program for shark research.

Experts said this is typical shark behavior, but if you're getting in the ocean, you should assume there are sharks there too.

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"I'll definitely be surfing again, but I know that it'll affect my mindset. Like, I'll be a little more cautious in the water," Nielson said.

Shark bites like Nielson's are extremely rare, but just last month, another teen in the Sunshine State was bitten by a bull shark while lobster fishing with his family.

"I looked in the water and all I saw was red. I didn't even see my leg. I couldn't see anything," said 15-year-old Lucas Cruz.

His injuries were so severe, with lacerations to both legs, tissue and muscle damage and a severed Achilles. Cruz had to be airlifted to a hospital where he spent 11 days.

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After extensive reconstructive surgeries, he's now recovering at home, and using a wheelchair and walker to get around.

"His wounds have healed. His prognosis is excellent and I anticipate a very rapid, excellent recovery for him," said Haaris Mir, medical director of burn and reconstructive centers of America at Kendall Regional Medical Center.

It's important to put into context how rare shark bites are. The Florida county in which Nielson was surfing and bitten averages nine bites per year, which seems high but, remember, there are millions of people out there in the water each year. Still, if you are going to go out in the water, always stay vigilant.