Linton Suttle, 13, was swimming near Sea Pines Beach Club on Thursday when he felt the teeth of what was likely a blacktip or sharpnose shark enter his foot, he said Saturday.
Suttle said he was pushing his 11-year-old sister on a boogie board when he decided to dive into the water. That is when he felt the sharp pain which he instinctively pulled away from, he said.
The North Carolina teen is the fourth shark bite victim on Hilton Head Island confirmed this summer by Florida Program for Shark Research, which tracks shark bites across the country.
“I thought maybe it was a seashell but as I turned around to look I saw a shadow swim away and I knew I had just got bit by a shark,” Suttle said. “My first thought was that I wanted to get my sister out of the water.”
Suttle also said he didn’t expect anyone would believe that it was a shark. He was right. His parents weren’t so quick to believe the marks on his foot were from a shark.
Kristy Suttle, Linton’s mom and a nurse practitioner, said Saturday she initially thought the wounds were from a tentacle. After further examination, she started considering it was something else, she said.
A Google search from Linton’s father showed pictures from recent cases of shark bites on Hilton Head Island, Kristy said. She said the images looked similar to Linton’s bite so they decided to contact the Florida Program for Shark Research.
George H. Burgess, director for the program, confirmed it was a shark bite, Kristy said. The Suttle family shared an email from Burgess with the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette, but Burgess was not immediately available for comment Saturday.
“I already knew it was a shark bite,” Linton said. “I was glad he also said it was because now my parents know.”
Kristy said the bite happened during the first day of the family’s vacation. It has made the trip a little difficult as Linton has to be on crutches and he can’t swim in the ocean.
“Half of an inch to the left and he might have lost a toe,” Suttle said. “I am grateful it didn’t do more damage.”
A 10-year-old Kentucky boy, Johnny Simatacolos, also was bitten by a shark while swimming at Sea Pines Beach on July 28.
Two teen girls were bitten by sharks while swimming on Hilton Head earlier in the summer.
On June 18, 14-year-old Reagan Readnour, of Lewis Center, Ohio, was pulled off a boogie board and bitten on the leg in two places by a shark in shallow waters off Burkes Beach.
Three days later, on June 21, 16-year-old Olivia Wallhauser, of Jasper, Ind., was bitten by a shark while swimming off South Forest Beach in shallow water, six miles south of where Readnour was attacked.
None of the bites were life threatening, indicating they were from smaller sharks.
There are no requirements for reporting shark attacks in South Carolina. The International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History is the longest running database for shark bites in the nation.