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Florida Issues Shark Warning as 3 People Attacked on Beaches

Authorities are warning beachgoers about shark dangers along Florida's Gulf Coast this weekend after three people were injured in two separate shark attacks. The incidents occurred off beaches in the Florida Panhandle on Friday, prompting temporary closures and heightened vigilance among authorities and visitors alike.

Boats are patrolling the ocean waters, while lifeguards and emergency services personnel are stationed along the shore to monitor the situation and provide assistance if needed. Red and purple flags are being used to signal high hazards and the presence of dangerous marine life, urging swimmers to exercise caution.

The first attack occurred in the afternoon near WaterSound Beach when a woman was bitten by a shark. She sustained critical injuries to her midsection and arm, leading to the amputation of part of her arm. Despite immediate medical attention and evacuation to a trauma center, her injuries were severe.

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Less than two hours later, another attack was reported about 4 miles east of the first incident. Two teenage girls, part of a group of friends swimming in waist-deep water, were bitten by a shark. One of the girls suffered significant injuries to her upper leg and hand and was airlifted to a trauma center, while the other sustained minor injuries to her foot.

The attacks have prompted authorities to close several beaches temporarily, with flags warning of high hazards and urging swimmers to stay out of the water. Law enforcement agencies are coordinating efforts to ensure public safety and provide timely assistance in case of emergencies.

Experts emphasize the rarity of shark attacks and advise beachgoers to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings. While sharks are always present in the Gulf of Mexico, attacks are infrequent, with authorities attributing the recent incidents to various factors, including the presence of small fish near the shore.

Despite the heightened alert, authorities stress that enjoying the beach responsibly is still possible. However, swimmers and beachgoers are urged to exercise caution, especially during peak shark activity times such as early morning and dusk, when sharks are more likely to be feeding.

The incidents in Florida coincide with a separate shark attack in Hawaii, where a woman was seriously injured in the waters off the island of Oahu. While shark attacks are rare, authorities remain vigilant and advise the public to adhere to safety guidelines to minimize risks while enjoying the beach.

June 9, 2024 1:41 p.m. 444

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