South Padre Island Fire Department Chief Doug Fowler confirmed Wednesday that a shark bit a woman near beach access 14 off of South Padre Island on Saturday.
The woman was knee-deep into the water when she felt a sharp pain on her foot, according to Fowler. Fowler says she did not suffer any life-threatening injuries.
“This is a really rare instance, and the people I’ve talked to can’t remember another time in their lives when this happened on the island,” Fowler said. “We take it very seriously–the safety of our beach goers and we work really hard in order to try to ensure their safety.”
Fowler added that beach patrol will continue to stay vigilant as they check warning flags, patrol around the beach and, if necessary, move people from the beach if they’re in harm’s way.
About 1.8 percent of sharks bites have been reported in the state of Texas per year, according to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley earth and marine sciences professor Dr. Richard Kline.
“A lot of little, small bait fish moving through the area and so the sharks got a free buffet to eat with their mouths open,” Kline said. “So, if someone’s in the water and they feel a bunch of bait fish swimming by them, as a shark swims by, it can’t distinguish between someone’s ankle and the fish it’s trying to eat.”
Dr. Kline advises beach goers to stay calm if they see a shark while in the water, and to make their way to the shore without splashing around.