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Possible 10th shark bite at Fla. beach

sharks
Sharks have been spotted for several days off New Smyrna Beach.  


NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- Volusia County Beach Patrol officers are investigating whether a 69-year-old man was bitten by a shark Monday afternoon, authorities said.

William Goettel was bitten on the left foot while wading in four feet of water at the south end of New Smyrna Beach.

He did not see a shark, but patrol officers at the scene said the wound looked similar to shark bites received by nine other people since August 18, said Beach Patrol Deputy Chief Joe Wooden.

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Goettel was recommended to get stitches, but it is not clear whether he sought treatment, said Wooden. The injury was minor, he said.

The latest apparent brush with a shark happened five miles south of a one-mile stretch of New Smyrna Beach currently off limits.

Beach patrol officers decided to keep the strip south of the Ponce de Leon Inlet closed as a safety precaution for a fifth straight day after spotting 24 sharks during an afternoon helicopter flyover. Twenty sharks had been counted in a morning flyover.

Volusia County officials planned more flyovers Tuesday to re-evaluate the situation. The high number of sharks -- and the beach closing -- did not deter surfers from taking out their boards.

"We are strongly cautioning surfers, this is not the thing to do. But the decision is to not arrest the surfers, even if they've violated the beach closing. We are not in a confrontation with the surfers," David Byron, the county's community information director, told CNN. "The decision to close the beach is based solely on public safety," Byron said. "We are not reacting to pressure to reopen the beach."

The Volusia County Beach Patrol closed the strip Thursday after several people were bitten by sharks last week. In all, eight surfers and boogie boarders have been bitten near the closed beach area, and a ninth was nipped further north of the inlet. None of the injuries were serious.

The mile-long stretch of shoreline south of the Ponce de Leon Inlet is still open to sunbathers and pedestrians. The waters off Volusia County are home to many sharks year-round. But it is the larger-than-normal number of sharks clustered in one area that has the beach patrol worried.






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• International Shark Attack File
• New Smyrna Beach, Florida

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