Girl on Georgia beach survives tiny shark attack

Sharks the only way I like to see them -- at the Georgia Aquarium.
Sharks the only way I like to see them -- at the Georgia Aquarium.

Only 2 fatal shark attacks have been reported in Georgia in more than 100 years

As far as shark attacks go, this one probably won’t make a movie, but on the first day of Summer it did make the news.

Tennessee girl Adyson McNeely is recovering from a Georgia shark bite that was surely traumatic but looks like it barely required a bandage.

The 11-year-old was bitten on the leg by a sand shark Monday while wading in waist-deep water on St. Simons Island, reports Channel 4 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Adyson was back on the beach Tuesday, but didn’t venture into the water. Neither did other members of her family.

Can’t say I blame them.

The victim’s mom said when she goes to the beach "I will be scared to death. I just want to go down the whole beach and be, like, 'My daughter got bit by a shark. Be careful."

The TV station says the “attack” was the first of the year in south Georgia and north Florida, yet “Georgia ranks in the top 10 states with the most shark attacks.”

Wow! That sounds incredibly dangerous.

How many shark attacks do Georgia swimmers suffer through per year?

Well, the article also says this latest nibble is the “most recent shark attack in Georgia [since] 2014 when a 12-year-old boy was bitten while surfing off Tybee Island.”

According to something I found called the “Global Shark Attack File” Georgia has never -- since the 1800s at least -- reported more than two shark attacks in a year. Zero attacks were reported most years.

In 2001, the Associated Press wrote there had only been nine confirmed shark attacks in Georgia since 1918. There have been 11 since 1876.

As you know, things get a bit crazier in Florida. Since 1900, the Sunshine State has reported 828 attacks with 36 fatalities. That's the most reported in the U.S. Hawaii has only reported 230 attacks but slightly more fatalities, 38.

The last fatal shark attack in Georgia? It was in the 1970s, the same decade the movie “Jaws” made it easy to find a place to put your beach towel.

My top-notch research revealed a great website that details many Georgia shark attacks with news articles from the time of the incident.

According to the site, a 17-year-old boy was killed July 20, 1974, when he was attacked by a “school of small sharks” while “swimming in the Back River near Savannah Beach.” Google maps tells me that is the opposite side of Tybee Creek from the fishing pier on the south end of Tybee Island. The coroner told AP that shrimpers operating in the area may have attracted the small sharks.

Tybee is also the site of the only other presumed shark attack. According to a 1912 news article, a 12-year-old boy was swimming with “about 30” other boys he was on a camping trip with when he disappeared in deep water. His dismembered body was later found on the beach. The news headline is “Did sharks kill swimming youth?”

There are many other accounts of Georgians surviving shark attacks, but journalists tend to sensationalize them and blame sharks without much scientific evidence.

A 1953 article reveals two airmen “fought sharks with bare hands.” The men had crashed a B-29 weather plane 200 miles off the coast of Georgia while on the way to Bermuda and survived in the ocean for 22 hours before being rescued. One of the men said he “dove through a wall of fire” before tying himself to the other crew member and engaging in fisticuffs with fish. They showed cuts on their hands as proof of the piscine battle.

Whether they really fought sharks and whether 200 miles off the coast of Georgia is still Georgia, I will let the reader decide.

The Global Shark Attack File website tells us "Humans are not on the menu of sharks. Sharks bite humans out of curiosity or to defend themselves."

Summer’s here. Don’t be afraid to hit the beach.

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