SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — It has never happened before — at least, not in recent memory.
But just off Bougainvillea beach access 14 a shark bite left one woman suffering from lacerations to her foot on Saturday.
“The lady was in about knee-deep water and it took a bite out of her foot,” said Jim Pigg, South Padre Island beach patrol director.
“The teeth are so sharp even little bites like that are going to do some damage.”
Pigg said in his 17 years of living and working on the Island, he had never seen a confirmed shark bite before.
But that has changed.
According to South Padre Island Fire Chief Doug Fowler, emergency room doctors confirmed it was a shark bite.
“I wouldn’t be concerned about it,” Pigg said.
“I went and swam the next day.”
He said all his lifeguards did their daily exercises and preventive water rescue drills the very next day.
“It’s the ocean. They (sharks) are always there and they have always been there,” he said.
The South Padre Island beach patrol responded to the incident some time before 6 p.m. on Saturday.
The woman was transported to a nearby hospital.
Pigg said the call came over the radio as a marine bite and he figured it was just another stingray attack.
“But we get those all the time for stingrays,” Pigg said. “We responded to the accident thinking it was a stingray.”
He said the bleeding was already controlled and the incident was not life-threatening when he arrived at the scene.
Pigg said it was possibly a 3- to 4-foot blacktip shark that bit the woman, based on the size of the bite and from experience seeing them in the water on different occasions.
“It’s been real flat so the stingrays come into shallow water,” Pigg said. “So since the stingrays are a food source for sharks, it came in, too.”