‘It was a nightmare’: 12-year-old boy is on the mend after third NW Florida shark attack in 2013

Shark Attack

12-year-old Zachary Standridge stands with his father, Scot Standridge. Katie Standridge, Zachary's mother, said the football playing Tennessee boy is now learning to throw with his left hand.

Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 02:41 PM.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Karen may have played a role in an apparent shark attack in Destin on Saturday.

A 12-year-old boy was taken by ambulance to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center after being bitten in the Gulf of Mexico behind the Silver Beach Towers in Destin.

George Burgess and his staff at the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida study shark attacks worldwide. He said he did not know enough information about the incident to determine the culprit, but that bull sharks are often the offenders in this area, because they like the warm, dirty waters of the Gulf.

Lack of visibility in the water is one condition that can directly affect a shark's likelihood to attack a human. Destin’s beaches were particularly churned up Saturday with double red flags flying as a result of Tropical Storm Karen. When the water is murky, like area waters have been much of this summer due to heavy rains and sediment runoff, sharks can get confused and are unable to distinguish between humans and other creatures in the water.

"In some cases, sharks are simply out looking to go for an appropriate-sized food item, and the human might represent that when in the water," Burgess said.

Burgess said the most common shark attack is what he called a "hit and run," in which a shark bites a human, and then quickly flees after realizing the person is larger than the prey they seek. Standridge's attack didn't seem to fit into that mold, Burgess said, due to the severity of the wounds and the presence of a second wound.

Despite the low visibility in Emerald Coast waters this summer, Saturday's attack was the first in Okaloosa County this year. However, it’s the third such incident in Northwest Florida this summer.

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