TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — From her hospital bed, Addison Bethea recounts getting attacked by a shark while scalloping with her brother Thursday afternoon near Keaton Beach in Taylor County.
"Something latches onto my leg and I was like that's not right and then I look and it's a big old shark," said Bethea in an exclusive interview with Good Morning America.
Bethea said while the shark was latched onto her leg, she tried to fight back, her brother even jumping in the water to help beat the shark off her.
"So I then remember from watching Animal Planet that you're supposed to punch them in the nose or something like that, but I couldn't reach around to his nose the way he bit me," said Bethea.
Once out of the water, Bethea's father Shane says her brother, who is a firefighter and first responder boated them back to Keaton Beach where she was airlifted to Tallahassee.
Shane said in a Facebook post about his daughter who is now stable:
"She woke up and was communicating to us through typing on her phone. She was in good spirits and cracking jokes about beating up the shark."
While Bethea's family is still dealing with the aftermath of the shark attack, those who study sharks and other sea life, like Jack Rudloe who runs the Gulf Specimen Laboratory in Panacea says shark attacks in the big bend don't happen that often.
"It's very rare that we have a shark attack here. It's much more on the east coast of Florida," said Rudloe. "Here it's a case of mistaken identity."
Rudloe says thrashing and quick movements like what scalloping can entail can confuse sharks into thinking that people can be prey.
He adds that if you're planning on being out on the ocean this summer, have fun but make sure you're aware of your surroundings, don't swim around fishermen or schools of fish as they can attract sharks, and if you're scalloping, don't clean your scallops in the water.
Rudloe said that when he heard about the shark attack in Taylor County, he was hurt for the family and wishes Addison Well in her recovery.
"It's just a very sad and unfortunate thing, and we hope the best for her," said Rudloe.
HOW TO HELP:
Buckeye Community Federal Credit Union in Perry and Madison, Florida
An account has been created in Addison's name.
You can also mail a check to Buckeye Community Federal Credit Union, 1825 S Jefferson Street, Perry, Florida 32348, please remember to write Addison Bethea in the memo.