A shark bit the boy's hand while he was kayaking with his father off of Catalina Island

By Rachel DeSantis
July 01, 2021 04:28 PM
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Great white shark with open jaws
Credit: Getty

A teenage boy was hospitalized after he was bitten by a shark while riding in a kayak with his father off the coast of California, officials said.

The victim — identified as a 15-year-old Boy Scout by KTTV — was kayaking with his father around 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday when a shark bumped into their boat near Parson's Landing on Catalina Island, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Lifeguard Division said in a news release.

"During the encounter, the patient reached their hand into the water and was bit by the animal," the release said.

The boy was assessed by lifeguard paramedics, who found no other injuries. Because of the nature of the hand injury and the remote location, he was airlifted to a local hospital in stable condition and underwent surgery, the release said.

The teen was a youth participant of the Boy Scouts Camp in Emerald Bay, according to KABC.

Parson's Landing - Catalina Island, CA
Catalina Island
| Credit: Eric Noland/Los Angeles DailyNews/ZUMA Press

Boy Scouts of America said in a statement to KTTV that camp staff quickly removed all other participants from the water after the incident, and canceled all water activities.

"Safety is integral to everything we do, and we place great importance on prevention and preparedness to create the most secure environment possible for our participants," the statement read. "We provide a chase boat, which goes out before every water activity that takes place outside of Emerald Bay to identify potential weather and wildlife hazards and follows each group of participants back to shore. No hazards were spotted this morning."

The ocean was closed one mile in each direction of the incident site, and remained closed for a minimum of 24 hours, per policy.

A shark expert from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography was called in to help identify the size and type of shark, according to the release.

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Dr. Chris Lowe, a shark expert from California State University, Long Beach, told KABC shark attacks are rare but can happen in the area, and noted that the culprit in Wednesday's incident was likely a large juvenile great white shark

"Catalina, even though it's 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, is still technically close enough that white sharks easily range between there and the mainland. Typically we see adults and some large juveniles out at Catalina, we don't see a lot of babies out there," he said. "If you're in the water, always stay together. There's safety in numbers, and basically we see a decrease in incidents where people are bitten if they're with other people."