July 1, 2005

Austrian bitten in third Florida shark attack

MIAMI (Reuters) - A 19-year-old Austrian tourist wasattacked by a shark along Florida's Gulf Coast on Friday, thethird victim in less than a week of the ferocious predatorsthat roam the waters around the Florida peninsula.

Armin Trojer from Baden, Austria, was bitten on the rightankle by the shark while swimming in chest-deep waters off BocaGrande, 140 miles northwest of Miami, said Lee County Sheriff'sDeputy Angelo Vaughn.

Vaughn said the extent of Trojer's injuries was not clearbut "it's more than just a scrape."

The Austrian was flown by helicopter to a hospital and wasundergoing surgery. Vaughn said he was pulled out of the waterby rescuers after the attack.

Craig Hutto, a 16-year-old boy fishing in waist-deep wateroff Cape San Blas in the Florida Panhandle, was bitten by ashark on Monday. His leg had to be amputated.

Last Saturday, 14-year-old Jamie Marie Daigle of Gonzales,Louisiana, was killed by a shark near Destin, about 60 milesnorth of Monday's attack. Officials believe she was bitten by a6-foot (1.8-meter) bull shark, an aggressive shark species thatcan survive in both salt and freshwater.

Florida recorded about 33 shark attacks a year from 2000 to2003. The number dipped to 12 last year, possibly because aseries of strong hurricanes kept swimmers, surfers and diversout of the water and kept sharks away from the coastline.

Fatal shark attacks are rare. There were seven reporteddeaths from 61 unprovoked shark attacks recorded worldwide lastyear, according to the International Shark Attack File, a groupat the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Worldwide, there were four fatal attacks in 2003, three in2002 and four in 2001, the group's statistics showed.