Girl, 16, Bit by Shark Off Florida's Amelia Island: I Felt the 'Jaw Snap on My Foot'
Warning: This story contains graphic imagery.
A 16-year-old girl is recovering after she was bitten by a shark while vacationing in Amelia Island, Florida.
Jackie Jozaitis, of Sarasota, was on the beach early Friday morning to watch the sunrise and go boogie boarding during her friend’s birthday celebration by the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, according to WFLA.
“I was getting ready to go, and I felt this rush of water come towards me and then the jaw snap on my foot,” she told WFLA.
In a statement to PEOPLE, the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office said Jozaitis was “bitten by a shark behind her foot at the heel and ankle area” around 7:30 a.m.
Jozaitis struggled to get back up to the hotel where she was staying, all while attempting to nurse her injury. Hotel staff applied pressure to the wounds and called an ambulance.
“Blood all over the sand, all over the pool deck, and they were like, ‘It’s going to be okay,’ but there’s still so much blood,” Jozaitis recalled to the outlet.
As she was being transported to Baptist Nassau Hospital, the teenager remained positive.
“I was kind of loopy because I was losing so much blood, and I was like, ‘I’ll be fine, I can knock it off my bucket list,’ ” she told the news station.
Doctors confirmed at the hospital that the bite marks on Jazaitis were from a blacktip or sand shark about 3 to 4 feet long, according to WFLA.
Jazaitis — who will need six weeks of therapy until she can walk again — told the outlet that she learned a lesson from the frightening attack.
“The main thing for me was to make sure of your surroundings, to be [aware of] what’s happening around you, because if I had decided not to go during sunrise, to find out that’s when sharks feed during sunrise and we didn’t know that,” she told WWSB.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission did not immediately return PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
Blacktip sharks are typically found in warm coastal waters and occasionally encounter humans, according to National Geographic. They typically weigh 66 to 220 lbs. and are 8 feet tall.
Sand sharks, meanwhile, are 6.5 to 10 feet long and on average weigh 200 to 350 lbs. These sharks contain a mouth full of sharp teeth but are said to only attack humans if bothered first.
On June 26, college student Jordan Lindsey, 21, was killed by a group of sharks while snorkeling during a family vacation in the Bahamas.
As of July 11, there have been 21 reported and verified shark attacks in the U.S. in 2019, according to Tracking Sharks. Eight of those attacks, excluding Jozaitis’ incident, occurred in Florida.
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