HILTON HEAD ISLAND, South Carolina – A 7-year-old girl from Missouri was bitten by a shark while playing in 2 feet (60 centimeters) of water.
The girl suffered puncture wounds to her foot and buttocks in the attack Wednesday afternoon, but the injuries were not life threatening, Beaufort County deputies said.
Lifeguards and others on the beach first thought the girl had been stung by a stingray, but the doctor who treated her found a shark tooth embedded in her foot, authorities said.
Sharks often get closer to shore as the ocean waters warm and the bait fish they eat get closer to the beach, said Al Stokes, manager of the Department of Natural Resources' Waddell Mariculture Center.
An average of three shark bites are reported on South Carolina beaches each year, said Charles Farmer, a 38-year veteran of the DNR who wrote a book about sharks.
The last fatal shark attack off the island occurred in 1883, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.