Key Largo ‘Shark Bite' May Have Been Barracuda: FWC

Florida wildlife officials say a man who was initially believed to have been bitten by a shark while snorkeling in the Florida Keys was likely bitten by a barracuda.

The man, who was visiting from Georgia while celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary, was in the waters at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo when he was bitten Saturday afternoon. Video from the incident showed people on a boat helping the man out of the water as he was bleeding heavily from one leg.

Witnesses said it was believed to be a shark bite and that other snorkelers saw sharks in the water nearby. But Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said Monday that other witnesses said they saw a barracuda in the water.

Some who were on the dive boat told investigators a school of bait fish was swimming near the surface of the water with the barracuda swimming by and biting the man on his leg.

Katerina Saez, who was onboard the boat, sprang into action when she saw the man and his bleeding knee.

"I just scream, 'I'm a registered nurse, let me up!'" said Saez, who told NBC 6 she had just passed her nursing exams and got her license just two days before.

Another woman onboard the boat happened to be an EMT technician, so she and Saez worked together to bandage up the man's wounds.

"I want to say God put me there more than anything else" Saez said. "I think my natural love for it kicked in and I don't know I felt like I was built for that moment."

Authorities have not released the name of the man so his condition is unknown. An FWC spokesman said the victim was taken to a local hospital and likely received some stitches to heal his wound.

Key Largo dive instructor John Buckley, with Rainbow Reef Dive Center, said a bite like the one that happened is a rarity.

"I hate to use the word attack, because what we saw really was not an attack so much as it was a case of mistaken identity I’m sure, this fish was just doing what fish do, feeding and something that was not their normal food happened to get in the way and it is unfortunate," Buckley said.

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