Shark experts to review bite photos

Published: Jun. 14, 2012 at 5:57 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2012 at 4:24 PM EDT
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Source: WMBF News Reporter Sean Maginnis
Source: WMBF News Reporter Sean Maginnis
Jordon Garosalo's family tells WMBF News he was bitten on the foot.
Jordon Garosalo's family tells WMBF News he was bitten on the foot.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) A group of university researchers are reviewing the evidence after four people were bitten by what may have been a shark between 72nd and 82nd Avenue North.

The dispatch website for Myrtle Beach Police says the call about a possible animal bite came in around 1:20 p.m.

Captain David Knipes, spokesman for the Myrtle Beach Police Department, tells WMBF News that four individuals were bitten in the ocean.

Knipes say they are possible shark bites, but they cannot know for sure until it is confirmed by a doctor or shark expert.

Photos of the bites were sent to a team of researchers at the University of Florida on Friday, Captain Knipes said, but there is no time frame on when the results will be returned.

Master Corporal Mike Guthinger stated, "It's possibly a shark but we haven't confirmed that yet. We took a lot of photographs of the bites and we'll send those off to have some of the experts look at them to determine what it actually was."

The victims were in the water at 74th Avenue, 77th Avenue, 79nd Avenue and 82nd Avenue North when they were bitten.

Knipes says three of the victims were transported by EMS to the hospital and the fourth was driven in a personal vehicle. Their condition is unknown at this time.

Family and friends of the victim from 77nd Avenue North identify him as 16-year-old Jordon Garofalo from Canton, Ohio. They tell our news crew on the scene that Garofalo was bitten on the foot.

Garofalo said he was in a state of shock. "I never saw anything. That's why it took me by surprise when all of a sudden there was something latched on to my foot."

Garofalo went on to explain, "All of a sudden I just felt something clamp onto my foot. I just kind of kicked it off. I couldn't really tell if it had bit me, but when I lifted up my foot it was like an indent."

They later told WMBF News Reporter Ashley Taylor that their doctor believes that, based on the tooth pattern, his wound was inflicted by a shark.

Garofalo stated, "Some specialist on this said after examining the four people including myself he said it was pretty much narrowed down to that is was probably a shark because the wound on this one was so big that it was probably the upper teeth."

Portions of the beach between 62nd and 82nd Avenue were closed to swimmers for over an hour, and the beaches are now reopen.

Officials are encouraging people to use extreme caution in the ocean. Guthinger explained, "We tell people to shuffle their feet in the water because of sting rays being on the bottom. We ask you not to swim by the pier. We ask you not to swim by someone who's fishing. If you see bait in the water or something jumping at that particular time…just get out of the water."

Marine Biologist Shannon Hughes said it is a rare occurrence to have four bites in one day. Hughes explained, "The most likely reason why something like that could have happened was that the sharks themselves were probably following a school of fish and they were going through the school of fish actually feeding  off of them and unfortunately there were people in the way…in the bait fish or swimming around in the same area."

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