Spotlight on rare but real danger

Two shark attacks in three days off the Florida Panhandle have left one teen dead and a second seriously injured. The tragedies spotlight the real, though rare, danger of shark attacks.

On Monday a shark nearly severed the leg of 16-year-old Craig A. Hutto of Lebanon, Tennessee, as he and two companions fished in chest-deep water 60 feet (18 metres) off Cape San Blas, writes Brian Handwerk, for National Geographic News.

Hutto was airlifted to a hospital in Panama City, where doctors amputated his severely damaged leg. Hutto remains in critical but stable condition and is expected to recover.

“There’s a good chance that the fact that they were fishing played a role,” said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville, Florida.

“It’s speculative at this point, but they might have had a bucket of bait in the water or even caught fish on them.”

Yesterday’s attack followed the death on Saturday of Jamie Marie Daigle. The 14-year-old from Gonzales, Louisiana, was fatally bitten by a shark as she boogie-boarded with a friend near Miramar Beach.

Daigle “was [reportedly] well offshore in a sandbar area where sharks are known to prowl