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Old 04-21-2015, 07:13 PM
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Default UW Photographer Attacked By Rare Blue Shark In Warm Shallows Of Florida Keys

A blue shark

A very experienced underwater photographer was shooting a rare 8 to 9 ft. blue shark in the warm shallows of the flats near Summerland Key in the lower Florida Keys. The following information comes in part from recent Facebook posts. The shark was described as sick or feeling cornered to have been this aggressive but the diver says her behavior was off. After about a half hour the shark attacked the photographer badly injuring one shoulder. It is possible the shark was just sighted in the shallows without the presence of chum, that information was unavailable at this time. He apparently doesn't use chain mail during shark shoots as it hinders his ability to get the shots he would like. It seems that video of the encounter and attack was recorded and may be broadcast at some point in the future.

Based on what happened in this accident and was reported elsewhere, if you see a predator such as a shark out of its normal geographic setting and behaving in a strange, impaired fashion, expect that it might make an "uncharacteristic" attack run on you. Being a photographer myself, it is sometimes easy to discount such possibilities in the excitement of trying to "get the shot" particularly of something you may have never seen before. The three cases of blue sharks in warmer water in this article, all were described as behaving strangely. It is something to remember as what may be climate related oddities including creatures showing up outside normal distributions continue to occur.

Summerland Key

You can see GRAPHIC images of the victim (bloody, shredded and perforated body parts) at the following link, subject to FB restrictions. This is the caption for the photo:

So last week while documenting a 8ft Blue Shark off the Florida Key, he took a bite to his left shoulder & Bicep. As he puts it "he entered her strike zone one too many times" during the half an hour he was filming her. He ended up with a pretty deep bite but remarkably he just missed his major tissues & arteries. I guess she no longer wanted to have her picture taken, understandable! He has been healing very well and so far no infection, just a nasty scar! We are being extra careful to keep it clean & dressed. He is on lots of antibiotics also. He will be returning to his u/w filming in a couple weeks.
Warning:These pictures are pretty graphic!

His condition was described as: Everyone wondering about the Blue Shark bite. He's doing great and no tissue damage just deep cuts we are keeping clean to avoid infection. far so good. Gonna be a nasty scar though.

You can see a post-accident photo, subject to FB restrictions, of the diver at: https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.n...35934810_o.jpg

The is what the International Shark Attack File has this to say about the geographic distribution of blue sharks:

"Blue sharks are found world wide in temperate and tropical waters. They are a pelagic species that rarely comes near shore but have been known to frequent inshore areas around oceanic islands and locations where the continental shelf is narrow. In the Atlantic they can be found from New Foundland, Canada to Argentina and from Norway to South Africa, including the Mediterranean. They range from South Africa to Indonesia and from Japan to New Zealand in the Indian and western Pacific Oceans. In the eastern Pacific, blue sharks range from the Gulf of Alaska to Chile."

Blue sharks have historically been very rare off the east coast of Florida, particularly in shallow water. They are described as a pelagic cooler water shark. As such they have rarely been sighted off the east coast of Florida both in the water or in historical shark fishery catches. Blue sharks do occur in warmer waters such as in the Indian Ocean and off Brazil but for whatever reasons have made infrequent appearances off Florida. A stir was created last April when a fisherman sighted a blue shark which may have also been sick, in the shallows of the flats of the Florida Keys.

"Rare blue shark found in mangroves Experience of a lifetime trying to save 9-foot ocean predator"

An angler fishing the flats of the Mud Key sandbars was treated to a rare find Monday afternoon when he spotted a blue shark cruising the shallows.
The species generally inhabit cooler, deeper water, said Neil Hammerschlag, shark expert and research assistant professor at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel Marine School of Marine Atmospheric Science.
They are more commonly found in the waters off more northern sections of the East Coast of the United States.
Geiger Key resident Lee Zangrillo was fishing the flats when he spotted the 9-foot blue shark, he said. He started casting his rod at the shark, thinking it was "the bull shark of a lifetime," he said.
As the shark bolted for some nearby mangroves, Zangrillo realized it was not a bull shark, but the deep-waterspecies of blue shark. The shark was "thrashing about," clearly panicking and out of its typical natural surroundings, Zangrillo said.
Zangrillo tail-wrapped the shark with a rope in an attempt to pull it from the mangroves and rescue it, he said. However, the shark ingested mud and sand into its gills and may have died from suffocation, Zangrillo speculated.
"The water was real warm. It must have been stressed out," Zangrillo said."
Continued at:

You can read more about that sighting with comments from the fisherman plus the two above photos at:

Blue sharks were sighted very near shore in unusual shallow warmer water conditions in the Med in the summer of 2014. You can see a video of an individual by the beach in Corsica looking "sick" or otherwise listless below and at the Daily Mail link below. Similar sightings and related beach closures were reported for Barcelona, Spain and off southern France.

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Last edited by RickI; 04-21-2015 at 08:02 PM.
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Old 05-07-2015, 05:01 AM
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An interview with photos appeared in the Florida Keys Keynoter:

"Big Pine man is bitten by a shark while photographing it, 58 stitches ensue
April 24, 2015

A Big Pine Key shark enthusiast is lucky to have his left arm after being bitten by a blue shark April 13 in ocean waters near mile marker 20.

Mark Rackley, a shark videographer for more than 25 years, said he knew he got too close to the shark but couldn't help himself. Rackley said he agitated the shark by following it out 300 yards into the ocean.

"I've never seen a blue shark in the Keys before," said Rackley, who estimates the shark was between 8 and 9 feet long. "I maneuvered to be in front of her to take photos. When I was over her, she swung her head around immediately and clamped onto my shoulder and bicep. It happened before I could blink."

Rackley let go of his camera and grabbed the shark, which immediately let him go. But even while being bit, Rackley said, "I thought to myself, 'What a beautiful shark.' "

Rackley, 48, was rushed to Lower Keys Medical Center on Stock Island following the bite. He received 58 stitches, each three quarters of an inch apart so any infectious germs could drain from the wound. Rackley said other than scars on his left bicep and shoulder, his recovery has been smooth and infection-free.

Rackley described the bite as initially painful but numbing after a few seconds. It caused him to be lightheaded and he passed out in the emergency room.

Rackley is unsure if the blue shark was male or female but referred to it as a she.

Blue sharks are rarely found in the Keys. According to National Geographic, blue sharks are a migratory deep-water shark traveling as far north as New York and as far south as Brazil."

"This is Mark Rackley's shoulder and upper arm before he received stitches. MARK RACKLEY"

"Mark Rackley received 58 stitches following the shark bite. MARK RACKLEY

"This is a photo of the shark Mark Rackley took just before it bit him. MARK RACKLEY"
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transcribed by:
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