While kite surfing off the coast of Key West, a man fell victim to a shark attack, marking the fifth shark bite in the waters of the Florida Keys in the last year.
On Saturday afternoon, 67-year-old Kevin Carlton Scott, a Key West resident, was kite surfing near the Garrison Bight Marina. Shortly before 2 p.m., Key West police rushed to the scene, where paramedics were already applying a tourniquet to Scott’s mangled leg.
According to the kite boarder’s wife, Laurie Scott, Kevin was around six miles offshore in Blue Fish Channel enjoying the surf and sun. She was nearby relaxing in their boat when she suddenly heard her husband’s blood-curdling scream. Helping him back onto the boat as fast as she could, Laurie called 911 and raced back to shore.
Though no one witnessed the attack, Scott’s “lacerations to his right calf [were] consistent with [a] shark bite,” Key West Police Officer Santiago Perez said in a subsequent report. Perez added that Scott is “an experienced boat captain and an experienced kite boarder,” per his wife. Before that day, he had never experienced such an attack.
After getting his bleeding under control with the tourniquet, paramedics rushed Scott to Lower Keys Medical Center. From there, an emergency crew airlifted the kite surfer to Jackson South Medical Center for further treatment.
Expert Maintains Shark Attacks Remain a Rare Occurrence
Shark attacks are undeniably serious events that can cause life-altering injuries and trauma to their victims. That said, they remain exceedingly rare, as marine science expert Mahmood Shivji pointed out in the wake of the horrific event.
“It’s so unfortunate that the kite boarder experienced a shark bite,” Shivji told Miami Herald. “However, in the big picture, it’s important to remember that the frequency of shark bite events is minuscule when you consider the huge number of people entering the water around the Florida Keys for recreation, especially since travel opened again after the COVID-19 pandemic-caused travel restrictions.”
There are more than 300 species of sharks roaming the world’s oceans. Of these, only around 12 have been involved in attacks on humans. Though sharks are opportunistic feeders, their diet does not include humans. As such, they don’t actively hunt swimmers, surfers, and kite boarders.
Instead, virtually all shark attacks occur as a result of mistaken identity. Seeing a human splashing in the water, sharks can become confused, assuming the large creature is a seal or sea lion. They then bite down, quickly realize the human is, in fact, not a marine mammal, and retreat.
“It’s far more dangerous to get into a car and drive every day than it is to swim in the ocean,” Shivji argued.
While sharks kill around 10 humans per year, humans are responsible for the deaths of around 100 million sharks annually. Experts estimate that between 6 and 8 percent of all sharks lose their lives to finning, fishing, and habitat loss each year.