A swim near Florida’s Cocoa Beach left Josh Green with 18 stitches and a nasty shark bite, but he also got quite the story out of it. The University of Central Florida (UCF) student was enjoying a warm afternoon in the water last Thursday when he felt a tug on his leg.
At first, Green said he thought it was just another practical joke by his friends, but he soon discovered that it was something else entirely. According to UCF’s school newspaper Knight News, Green’s first indication that he was in danger came when he felt the shark’s wedge-shaped face. The entire incident was so sudden that Green said he did not even have time to scream, much less panic. Acting almost entirely on instinct, Green then punched the shark as hard as he could.
“When I hit it, my foot was sort of released and I just swam to shore as fast as possible. I limped out over to my friends and they brought me up to the lifeguard,” Green said.
The bite had left a moderate gash across the student’s calf and ankle. When Green’s friends drove him to a nearby clinic, they said the doctors there were surprised because they had never seen a shark attack before.
Judging from the bite size, local lifeguards suspect that it may have been a blacktip shark that attacked Green. Blacktip sharks are generally not considered a major danger to humans, although attacks have been recorded. These sharks are usually much smaller than their more notorious cousins and only obtain a maximum length of about five feet. Despite their smaller size, blacktip sharks can be aggressive in the presence of food and their speed can catch swimmers off guard. Like with other shark species, some experts advise hitting the fish’s nose, eyes, or gills in the event of an attack. Punching in water is different than on land, however, and experts say that hard jabs may be more efficient than winding up for a haymaker.
Green is currently recovering from his injuries, which are expected to heal soon. In the meantime, he maintained a positive attitude about his ordeal.
“Sharkbait hoo haha,” he wrote on Instagram, where he uploaded an image of his wounds.