Boy's Arm Reattached After Shark Attack

July 7, 2001 -- An 8-year-old boy remains in critical condition after surgeons worked through the night to reattach his arm, which was bitten off during a shark attack in Pensacola, Florida yesterday.

Officials say the attack happened around 8:30 p.m. as the boy swam at the Gulf Islands National Seashore with his aunt and uncle.

A park service official said the boy's uncle dove into the water and pulled the boy and the 250-pound, six and a half foot shark to the shore.The uncle then wrestled the shark on the beach where a park ranger shot it three times in the head.

Arm Pulled Out of Shark

The child was airlifted to the hospital. Shortly after, his arm, which was pulled from the shark, was rushed by ambulance to the hospital where surgeons reattached it. A park ranger pried the shark's mouth open with a police baton and a lifeguard pulled out the limb with forceps.

Doctors spoke at a news conference today and said that it was too soon toknow whether the child suffered neurological damage due tosevere blood loss.

"Amazingly this was a clean cut," said Dr. Ian Rogers, aplastic surgeon who participated in the operation.

"Shark bites you don't anticipate will be clean cuts and thiswas surprisingly good and surprisingly clean."

The boy's parents declined to comment and did not want to identifyhim or themselves.

Officials say they believe that visibility may have played a part in theattack. Sharks have poor vision and when its dark or the water is murky they have a hard time distinguishing what is a threat and what isn't.

Shark experts say shark attacks on humans are rare, but bull sharks, the species that attacked the boy, are one of the most aggressive sharks and are responsible for some of the most serious injuries because of the way their jaws are constructed.

There were 79 recorded shark attacks worldwide last year, with nearly halftaking place in Florida. Only ten of those attacks were fatal.