Special Report filed by AAF Correspondent: Bill MayAnimal Attack Files Special Report
from the Naples Daily News (Naples, Florida)

      British visitor reports shark attack on Bonita Beach

Saturday, November 18, 2000


Fritz Hofmann had just set off for a leisurely walk on Bonita Beach on Friday afternoon when he saw his friend Colin Shadforth waving him over to where he stood just offshore.

"I thought he just wanted to show me something," Hofmann said.

Shadforth, 73, indeed had something to show - the injury where a shark bit his calf in less than 3 feet of water.

Shadforth, who was visiting from Great Britain, was flown to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers and was discharged early Friday evening. The attack was reported to the Bonita Springs Fire and Rescue District at 1:17 p.m.

Fire Capt. Tim Beitz said Shadforth's injuries appeared to be a shark bite, but he couldn't tell for sure.

"He had lacerations and puncture wounds just below the knee," Beitz said.

Shadforth told Hofmann he noticed a dark shape in the water below him just before it began tugging on his leg. Hofmann said he helped his friend out of the water as his wife, Rosemarie, ran to a nearby condominium's pool area, gathered towels to wrap Shadforth's leg with and shouted at someone to call 911.

"He was very brave," Rosemarie Hofmann said. "Because he's a doctor, he knew exactly what to do. He lost a lot of blood and his face was very white."

Shadforth is a frequent visitor to his condominium at Dolphin Way. George and Sandy Larsen have managed the Dolphin Way and Casa Bonita condominiums for 11 years. They said this the first shark attack they have heard of near their property on the northern tip of Little Hickory Island.

The last shark attack in the area was reported in July 1996 when an 8-year-old German girl was bitten while swimming near Wiggins Pass.

As breakers gently lapped the sand nearby, the Hofmanns said they had never worried about shark attacks during their many winter visits from Switzerland. Still, he and his wife will be staying out of the gulf for a few days.

"We won't go in again today or tomorrow," Fritz Hofmann said. "We usually swim two or three times a day."

Although most shark bites happen in the summer, a winter bite is not unheard of, said Dr. Bob Hueter, director of shark research at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. Hueter said such incidents are extremely unusual for this part of Florida and should not keep beachgoers out of the water.

"This is a very rare thing," he said of the Bonita Beach incident. "For it to happen in winter is even rarer. I wouldn't be concerned whatsoever."

Hueter said an average of 20 to 25 shark bites are reported in Florida each year, but the majority - 60 percent to 75 percent- occur on the state's east coast.

Hueter said the International Shark Attack File, an official register of information on confirmed, unprovoked shark attacks between 1882 and today, lists 404 incidents in Florida.

Of the 404 attacks, Hueter said six bites happened in Collier County and two were reported in Lee. None were fatal. Those numbers are small compared to Volusia County, home to Daytona Beach, with 106 recorded attacks, Hueter said.

While it's not confirmed that Shadforth was bitten by a shark, Hueter said if the attacker was indeed a shark, it was likely either a 3- or 4-foot-long juvenile of a larger species like a blacktip. Or the shark could have been a small coastal species like a sharpnose or a blacknose that never grow larger than 3 or 4 feet long.

Hueter said sharks are migrating south toward the Florida Keys, and "eating on the run." He said the attack may have resulted if Shadforth accidentally spooked the shark.

Copyright © 2000 Naples Daily News.

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