A 10-year-old boy had part of his leg amputated after a shark bit him while he was snorkeling off the Florida Keys over the weekend, his family says.
Jameson Reeder Jr. was bitten by a shark on Saturday, and authorities were called to Looe Key reef to help him around 4:30 p.m., the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
Jameson, while on vacation with his parents and sibling, “took a crushing blow below his knee” from what the family believes was a bull shark as he was snorkeling along a shallow reef, his uncle Joshua Reeder said in a Facebook post.
Jameson held onto a noodle float as his family pulled him back into a boat, and the family applied a tourniquet above the bite to slow the bleeding, the uncle wrote.
The family signaled to a nearby, faster boat, which happened to have a nurse aboard, the post reads. The boat rushed Jameson to shore, where paramedics were waiting. A helicopter flew him to a children’s hospital in Miami, according to the uncle’s post.
“They had to remove/amputate from just below the knee to save his life as it was not operable from the damage the shark had caused,” the uncle’s post reads.
The bite came as the number of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide appears to be leveling off after trending upward in the last 30 years.
Last year, 73 unprovoked shark attacks were confirmed worldwide. That’s in line with a five-year average of 72 from 2016 to 2020, according to a January report by the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File.
As is typical, a majority of 2021’s unprovoked attacks (47) were reported in the United States. Florida had the most of any one state (28), consistent with the state’s five-year average of 25, the museum says.
Many attacks are “cases of mistaken identity,” occurring under conditions of poor water visibility, according to the museum. Many of the bites occur when humans are swimming in or near large schools of prey fish, Robert Hueter, chief scientist at shark data organization OCEARCH, told CNN this year.
“People are bitten but rarely consumed, and that tells us that we are not on the shark’s menu,” Christopher Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at California State University Long Beach, told CNN this year.
Researchers are looking into whether certain factors might be driving up shark attacks off a different part of the US – the Northeast – like rising sea temperatures possibly pushing the fish that sharks eat farther north and conservation efforts increasing the number of those bait fish there.
But Florida typically leads the US in shark attacks, and most of Florida’s attacks happen off the state’s Atlantic coast. Hueter attributed that to the proximity of the Gulf Stream to the shore, significant waves, congestion of surfers and swimmers and the large schools of sharks in the area.
CNN’s Nouran Salahieh contributed to this report.