May 22, 2023
A Pennsylvania teen was injured Sunday at the Jersey Shore in a possible shark attack, according to officials.
The 15-year-old girl was surfing off the 109th Street beach in Stone Harbor when she sustained several lacerations to her left foot and calf, according to a statement released by borough officials. Stone Harbor police, fire and rescue squads responded to the scene at approximately 3 p.m. after receiving a 911 call about a possible shark attack.
After administering immediate onsite medical treatment, authorities transported the girl to Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May Court House, where she received six stitches. The injuries were not life-threatening.
Police have been working in collaboration with marine life experts to find out the exact cause of the surfer's wounds. The New Jersey State Southern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the girl's injuries are "consistent with those typically associated with a shark of unknown size and type."
With Memorial Day weekend looming, Stone Harbor officials have not placed any restrictions on beach activities at this time.
"The local police and fire departments are fully committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of both residents and tourists," Mayor Judy Davies-Dunhour said. "They are taking appropriate measures to thoroughly assess the situation and provide necessary updates to the public."
The odds of a shark attack in the United States are 1 in 11.5 million, according to the International Shark Attack File's (ISAF) report on beach injuries and fatalities. In New Jersey, there have been just 15 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks since 1837, according to ISAF data.
People tend to overestimate the risks posed by sharks. Fear of the creatures may stem from a string of shark attacks that took place along the Jersey Shore back in 1916, when four people were killed by sharks in two weeks.
In 2020, Delaware officials shut down multiple beaches at Cape Henlopen State Park in Sussex County after a possible shark bite; a 12-year-old boy sustained puncture wounds to one of his legs.
While shark attacks are rare, many sharks travel near the coast of the Jersey Shore. OCEARCH, an organization that tags and tracks sharks globally to promote ocean research and conservation, has pinged several sharks near the state in recent years. One was a 998-pound great white shark named Ironbound who stopped by last May on his way north.