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Shark Rips Apart Teen's Calf Off N.C. Shore

On Friday, 13-year-old Carley Schlentz was swimming with friends at a beach in Surf City, N.C., when she felt something grab her leg. She struggled to break free, only to realize a shark had ripped apart her calf.

Schlentz said on "The Early Show" Tuesday that she initially thought it was her best friend's sister grabbing her ankle.

"But then it got really tight," she explained, "so I pulled away and then I looked at my foot, and it was completely open and then I realized that something was wrong."

Schlentz said from Greensboro, N.C., that she's feeling "pretty good," but she's still hurting a bit -- even with her pain medication.

After the attack, Schlentz said she was OK with her friend's family around her. "They just reassured me that everything was going to be OK," she said. "So I wasn't really nervous, just scared and didn't understand what had happened."

Schlentz's friend's father wrapped his shirt around her shin to stop the bleeding, and an ambulance arrived shortly after.

Schlentz received around 70 stitches, but is expected to be back to normal -- with a scar -- in about two months.

She told "Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge the worst part of the bite is that she can't do any activities for about two weeks.

But will she swim again when she can?

Schlentz said she'll probably only go into knee-deep waters.

She said, "I know it's not really supposed to happen a second time, but it wasn't supposed to happen a first time. So I'll probably just stay knee-deep for a while until I fully comfortable again."

But why do sharks bite in the first place?

Shark expert Andy Dehart, of the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C., said shark bites are a case of mistaken identity.

He said, "The shark is in a very murky habitat near shore, they're relying on their other senses rather than vision. Oftentimes pale skin can look high contrast and unfortunately mistakes happen."

To avoid shark bites, Dehart said, "First enjoy the ocean. I know for Carley this becomes a lot more personal, but the reality of shark attack is very rare. In North Carolina, there's only been 35 attacks since 1935, so this is an extremely rare case. But avoid swimming at dusk and dawn. If you see a lot of bait fish in the area, should you probably sit it out for a little while until that moves on. And if there is a sandbar in the area, a lot of times that brings sharks because that's where the bait fish are living."
Dehart said one of the biggest myths about sharks is that they're mindless eating machines.

He said, "There is no shark species out there that target people for food. They're generally cases of mistaken identity and they are also a lot smarter than we realize. They have a large brain for a fish species and can be quite intelligent."

Dehart even invited Schlentz to a shark diving encounter if he's ever in North Carolina if she ever wants to come "face-to-face" with sharks.

He added, "The reality is, it's more dangerous to drive to the beach than to swim at the beach, but for Carley it's very personal and that's understandable."

So would Schlentz take him up on his offer to go shark diving?
She responded, "Maybe. I went scuba diving in December and I saw sharks and it really freaked me out, but now that I've gotten bitten, it's kind of more scary, so possibly."