(New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) — A brave mother fought off a shark that attacked her daughter as the two were surfing, the same day another surfer was attacked on the same Florida beach.
The two incidents Wednesday are among a series of shark attacks in recent days, as the underwater predators have seemed to enter shallow coastal waters earlier than usual, with the warmer than usual weather this year.
Valeh Levy and her 15-year-old daughter, Sydney, were paddling on their surfboards Wednesday off New Smyrna Beach when a shark suddenly pulled the teen underwater — twice. Levy pulled her daughter onto her board.
“It was to me like a scene out of ‘Jaws,’ where the girl’s getting sucked under, and I said, ‘There’s no way this thing is going to kill my daughter,’ and I grabbed her shoulders and I pulled her up and I threw her on the nose of my board,” Levy told WKMG-TV.
The shark continued circling Levy and her daughter until two nearby surfers heard their screams and helped them to shore.
An ambulance was already at the scene because a shark had attacked 17-year-old surfer Nick Romano in water that was waist deep only minutes before. Levy was rushed into surgery and released from the hospital a few hours later.
A few days earlier, a bull shark leaped out of the water and chomped down on a surfer’s arm just over 100 miles away, at Florida’s Jensen Beach.
“I was in the middle of my stroke and paddling and my left arm was like this, and all of a sudden something jumped out of the water and hit my arm. I looked over at it and I was eye-to-eye with a shark,” said surfer Frank Wacha.
Experts say environmental factors may be responsible for the earlier attacks.
“Environmental factors that we’re suffering on land could also be happening in the water such as climate change, lack of food sources, which changes migratory patterns, and you have 80 million or more tourists that come to those waters, so it’s no surprise accidents happen,” said ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacques Cousteau.
Experts say the unseasonably warm weather is bringing more people and fish to shallow waters, and so sharks that might usually feed in September when there are fewer people around are showing up now.
But Cousteau says the kinds of attacks seen in Florida last week are mostly exploratory: “Sharks don’t have arms like we do, so for them feeling, is feeling with their mouths.”
He says 95 percent of the time, a hungry, curious shark takes a taste, and moves on because sharks don’t consider people to be particularly tasty.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jeanne Sahadi, CNN
Chandra Johnson, Deseret News