Deadly Kite Surfer Shark Attack in Stuart Beach, Florida
A kite surfer was killed by a shark yesterday afternoon south of Stuart Beach, Florida. According to The Los Angeles Times, Stephen Howard Schafer, 38, was rushed to Martin Memorial North Medical Center, where he later died.
He told a lifeguard who swam to him that he had been attacked by sharks, officials say. Schafer had multiple bite wounds, including an 8- to 10-inch bite on his right thigh and teeth marks on his right and left buttocks.
It was Martin County’s first fatal shark attack, according to records going back to 1882. The species of shark that attacked him is not yet clear. Several species could have bit Schafer, said Neil Hammerschlag, a research assistant professor at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science who has studied the predatory habits of the killer sharks. “Great whites are occasional visitors to our waters, but you can’t say it’s a great white unless someone saw the attack or examined the wound.”
Great whites prefer colder northern Atlantic Ocean waters and aren’t usually thought of as a Florida shark. But smaller 6- to 8-foot ones migrate to Florida’s east coast during winter, said Grant Gilmore, a senior scientist with Estuarine, Coastal and Ocean Science Inc.
Although swimmers and surfers often receive minor bites in Florida waters, officials say fatal shark attacks there are extremely rare.