Yahoo News, Reuters

Monday April 20 10:58 AM EDT

Shark hangs on to teen-ager's chest

MARATHON, Fla. (Reuters) - A shark bit a teenager off the Florida Keys and hung on even when the victim was rushed to a hospital with the creature pinned to his chest by its jaws.

A 16-year-old boy was scuba diving with his father near Marathon in the Florida Keys, when he saw a three-foot nurse shark swimming near him and grabbed its tail, emergency workers said.

The shark bit his chest so tightly he was rushed to Fisherman's Hospital near Marathon with the creature still attached. The teenager was treated and released Thursday, a hospital administrator said Friday.

"He's been released. He's left the Keys," she said, declining to provide more information. A member of the hospital staff was unsure of the shark's fate, but it was apparently dead.

The Florida Marine Patrol said nurse sharks swim slowly and can appear to be harmless, but they can be dangerous and should be avoided.

"This is not unusual," said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. "It is hard to aggravate a nurse shark. They are pretty quiet animals, but if you get them mad, they hold on like a bulldog."

"In one memorable incident, an off-duty police officer felt obliged to pull out his service revolver and shoot the shark off a victim on a beach in Fort Lauderdale or Miami," he said.

According to the Shark Attack File, there were 17 shark attacks on humans in Florida waters in 1997.

Copyright © 1998 Reuters Limited.

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