JUPITER ISLAND — By the time Jupiter surfer Chris Bryan realized what happened, it was already over.
“It was so fast,” he said Sunday from his room at Jupiter Medical Center. “I didn’t think it was as bad as it ended up being.”
About 4 p.m. Friday, Bryan, 42, said he was bitten on the foot by a shark at Hobe Sound Beach, just after catching his last wave of the day.
“I took a wave back in, jumped off my board and the second my feet touched the water, it grabbed me,” Bryan said.
It was over in less than a second, he said. Bystanders pulled him from the water and called for a medic. Someone wrapped a towel around his left foot to staunch the bleeding.
He didn’t realize the extent of the damage until they pulled back the towel to show the lifeguard.
“The top of my foot was just laid open,” Bryan said. “It was really surreal. I couldn’t believe what just happened.”
He had surgery Friday to repair a severed tendon and close the wound, which took so many stitches the surgeon actually ran out of thread during the operation, he said.
“They had to send the nurses up to get more,” he said, laughing.
“It’s going to leave a good scar,” he added, and a good story to tell his students at South Fork High School in Stuart, where he teaches math.
Bryan said he didn’t see the shark that bit him but estimated it was about four feet long, based on the size of the bite
He said he has no second thoughts about stepping foot back in the water — not even the bad one.
“Not at all,” he said. “As soon as I can, I’ll be back out there.”
Between January and March each year, thousands of blacktip and spinner sharks migrate south along the Florida coast. The close proximity of sharks and beachgoers, particularly surfers, helps make Florida the “shark bite capital of the world,” according to the International Shark Attack File.
Unprovoked bites were down in 2018, with just 16 reported against a five-year average of 27.4.
Eric Rogers is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm and FLORIDA TODAY.
Contact Rogers at 772-978-2224 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @EricRogersFT.