A 5-year-old girl is recovering after an “extraordinarily rare” shark attack at a popular beach in Galveston, Texas late Tuesday afternoon.
Officials with Galveston County Health District EMS and Galveston Island Beach Patrol told reporters on the shark bite occurred near Pirates Beach around 5:30 p.m. causing “significant soft tissue damage” to the leg of the youngster, who is just shy of 6.
“The father heard the daughter scream, she was in knee-deep water, his knee-deep water, she was in a little ring tube and he looked over and saw the white under belly of a shark, said it was about the same size as her, three to four feet,” Peter Davis of the Beach Patrol told reporters.
The man managed to pull his daughter to safety. They were on a family vacation.
Officials said it’s “extraordinarily rare” to see shark bites in Galveston. But worldwide, shark bites are on the rise.
According to the International Shark Attack File based at the University of Florida, 2015 was a record-setting year for shark attacks. There were 98 unprovoked attacks worldwide last year, six of those fatal, and the vast majority of incidents occurred in the United States. Last year’s unenviable record bettered the previous high of 88 attacks, which was set in 2000.
Experts chalked it up to a rebounding shark population and more people venturing into the water. Warming ocean waters is also another factor as more people enter the water soon over larger coastal areas; coastlines that also attract sharks.