66-year-old Florida angler bitten by blacktip shark


Mar 11, 2001
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Marco man bitten after catching blacktip shark

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

By VICTOR A. HILL, Marco Island Eagle Staff Writer

As a lifelong shark fisherman, Donald Bennett had never been bitten by any of his catches, some measuring 6 feet in length.

On Wednesday, May 22, Bennett's luck ran out.

Bennett, 66, caught a 4-foot blacktip around 5 p.m. while fishing off a friend's dock at Caxambas Drive on the south end of Marco Island. As he tried to release the shark, it turned on him and chomped into his calf.

"I'm just glad he wasn't bigger," said Bennett, who lives at 283 S. Heathwood Drive. "We had hung some big ones, but we couldn't get them in."

Bennett went fishing with his friend, Patricia Waters, hoping to catch a nurse shark.

"Blacktips are pretty good, but nurse sharks are better to eat," he said.

Bennett caught a shark, but not the kind or size he expected.

"He was small," Bennett said.

He decided to release the blacktip and pinned it down to remove the fish hook from its mouth.

That's when the shark turned on Bennett. Its teeth ripped a semicircular series of cuts in Bennett's leg that resulted in 22 stitches.

"He just, like, wheeled around and grabbed it," Bennett said. "He shook his head.

That's what ripped into my leg pretty good."

Waters wrapped a towel around Bennett's leg to control the bleeding, and emergency workers were called.

"I didn't even feel it," he said.

"It was so fast. It really didn't hurt."

Bennett was taken to NCH Naples hospital for treatment and was released around 7:30 p.m.

He said he was more surprised at the shark's instinct than at being bitten.

"When he turned, how he knew when to clamp down, I guess his nose just told him where to go," Bennett said.

The attack is the second in Collier County in the last two weeks. A LaBelle man was bitten in the arm by a shark while fishing in the Ten Thousand Islands on May 15.

But Bennett hasn't been scared off by the attack.

"I just have to handle them better," he said.

As for the shark, Bennett will get revenge, of sorts. His friends cleaned and prepared it for Bennett to eat.

Until the two recent shark attacks, the International Shark Attack File Web site reports there have been six reported unprovoked shark attacks in Collier County since 1882.

The last one reported in Collier County was in 1996, when an 8-year-old girl was bitten at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park. She received 200 stitches in her leg.


Well-known member
Mar 12, 2001
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Heehee!!!  I can see the action in that boat now!  

I had one of those blacktips turn around and come for me while I was trying to release it.  He missed, but somehow managed to get the hook out of his mouth and impale my palm with it.  Through and through...  dang, that hurt!  

Had another one jump over the gunwale and come in the boat with me and my brother-in-law (his first ever ocean fishing trip).  We were drifting in a school of sharks behind a shrimp boat, but I thought my brother-in-law was gonna bail out anyway.  

I love the taste of blacktip, and they're a ball to catch... but lord have mercy, they're fast!
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