PENSACOLA, Fla. – Officials at a pier near the beach where a shark nearly killed a boy say they will not allow shark fishing since bait attracts the predators.
The Pensacola Beach Pier began the crackdown Monday because of attacks on a surfer Sunday and 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast July 6. Shark fishing was already banned in the area, but many anglers had ignored the rule.
About 40 sharks have been caught since the pier opened in May. Fishermen attract sharks by putting blood and chopped fish in the water, a practice known as chumming.
Monte Blews, general manager of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, which owns the pier, said he did not expect the ban to prevent shark attacks. But he said officials want to minimize the risk.
George Burgess, director of the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File, which monitors attacks, said he did not know whether fishing contributed to the attacks. But Burgess said officials should also prohibit fish cleaning on the pier as a precaution.
Waste from the cleaning, including fish entrails, empties into the water beneath the pier through drain pipes.
"Nothing excites a shark more than the smell of blood and bodily fluids," Burgess said.
Pier manager Bill King said he would not ban fish cleaning. He said anglers are not allowed to wash whole fish parts down the drains and that he did not believe guts alone would attract sharks.
Michael Lee Waters, the 48-year-old surfer bitten on the left foot by a shark Sunday about two miles from the pier, said he suspected the drains and odor may be attracting sharks.
"I could smell it and taste it in the water," he said Monday before being discharged from Sacred Heart Hospital.
Jessie, whose arm was reattached after being bitten off by a 7-foot bull shark, was still in critical but stable condition Tuesday at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital. Doctors said intestinal bleeding that began Monday had stopped and organs damaged by blood loss were improving.
Dr. Rex Northup said the Ocean Springs, Miss., boy showed improvement by coughing, yawning and moving his head sideways. Coughing helps him clear his lungs.