OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) -- A Pennsylvania girl on vacation comes into contact with something dangerous in the water. Her family said she was bitten by a shark, Ocean City officials said it might have been something else.
Jay Bradley, the curator of the Blue Wonders exhibits at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, said shark bites are extremely rare and almost always a case of mistaken identity, which is why it is often just one bite. One bite can cause damage though.
Jordan Prushinski was swimming on Monday near 119th Street in Ocean City and said she felt something sharp brush up against her leg. The 12-year-old's mother, Melissa, thinks it was a shark bite.
"We still don't know what kind of shark it was, but our doctor confirmed it was a shark bite," Prushinski said.
Ocean City Beach Patrol was on scene to treat the little girl and said some sort of encounter with marine life cannot be ruled out. The beach patrol's Capt. Butch Arbin said he has been with the team 49 years and has never seen anything like this. They are not confirming it was a shark and said it was not an attack. Arbin said, "the wound pattern on this little girl indicates this absolutely was not an attack, we don't know what it was."
Bradley said that though the ocean is the shark's home and swimmers are visitors, it is not unsafe to swim in the water with sharks. Bradley said they do not want to bite people.
"It's more likely in the summertime than it is other parts of the year because there are more people going to the beach, more people in the water; it increases the potential that someone could interact with a shark but it's still relatively uncommon here in Maryland," Bradley said.
If it was a shark in the water that day, chances are it was not seeking out humans as a food source, Bradley said.
"Generally, it is thought to be mistaken identity, and a majority of the attacks are on the extremities either hands or feet. Typically, it's one bite and the shark moves on," Bradley said.
For Jordan Prushinski, it was enough of a scare to stay away from the water for a few days, but not forever. "I'm kind of like wanting to stay out of the water for a little bit, but something like this is rare and it's very rare for it to happen again," she said.
Jordan got 42 stitches for the 20 lacerations on her leg but is recovering. Arbin said sharks are much less dangerous than rip currents and the beach is not an unsafe place because of the sharks in the water.
for more features.