HomeOutdoorsNewsGruesome Shark Bite Leaves Surfer With ‘Nightmares,’ Extensive Injuries

Gruesome Shark Bite Leaves Surfer With ‘Nightmares,’ Extensive Injuries

by Caitlin Berard
Great White, Species Behind Many Surfer Shark Bites
(Photo by Elizabeth Hoffmann via Getty Images)

A 36-year-old Florida surfer is experiencing intense nightmares on top of his physical injuries after suffering a shark bite while in the water near Pepper Park Beach last weekend.

According to the surfer, Matt Picarelli, he was enjoying a day on the water last Sunday when he suddenly felt a strange pressure on his foot followed by immense pain – he quickly realized that he had been the victim of a shark bite.

“It was a big animal next to me coming towards me,” he told WPTV. “Then, once it bit me, it took a chomp out of my foot and it just immediately left and just flew away, like so quick. Everything happened so quickly, it didn’t feel real at all. It felt very surreal.”

As the blue water surrounding him slowly turned crimson, Picarelli’s main goal became to escape the ocean. Doing his best to ignore the shark bite on his foot, the surfer rushed back toward the shore as others rushed toward him to offer assistance.

Back on land, Picarelli’s friend helped him into his car before driving him to HCA Florida Lawnwood Hospital. There, doctors did everything they could to mend the surfer’s mangled foot. The shark bite caused extensive injuries to the surfer’s foot, but after hours of treatment, hospital staff successfully stitched it back together.

“It was bleeding everywhere,” Picarelli recalled. “I had a whole bunch of strangers helping me out, giving me water, putting pressure on the wound…”

Surfer Suffered Both Physical and Psychological Damage From Shark Bite

The surfer explained that, in addition to a ruptured tendon and chipped bone, he required a whopping fifty stitches after the shark bite to his leg. He’s now recovering well from his physical wounds, but the psychological damage inflicted by the shark remains severe.

“Every night I’ve been having nightmares about it. I’m having sharks, whether I’m in the water or even in a room, coming towards me and biting my leg, biting my arm, biting my side, biting something, and attacking me,” the surfer said.

Though the shark bite left him with long-lasting pain, both inside and out, Picarelli’s prevailing emotion is gratitude. He’s on crutches with a bandaged foot, but he’ll be able to walk again soon. Moreover, he escaped the horrifying ordeal with his life.

Picarelli also doesn’t blame the shark for the bite, understanding that the risk comes with the territory for any surfer. “I feel like I always have a positive mind. I’m optimistic,” he said. “To every surfer, they know there’s a danger of sharks and them being out there. We’re in their house, essentially.”

Doctors explained to Picarelli that he would need crutches for at least six weeks. After that, they prescribed physical therapy to help his gait return to normal. When he’s fully healed from the shark bite, the surfer has every intention of returning to the sea.

“I surfed my entire life,” he said. “I’m a waterman. I love the ocean. I’m in there every day, so I don’t see myself not going back in after this.”