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Biologist remembers nurse shark encounter

Posted at 5:04 PM, May 16, 2016
News reports say a 23-year-old woman was bitten by a small nurse shark in Boca Raton.
 
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported the woman was taken to the hospital by ambulance Sunday with the shark still attached to her arm.
 
A spokesperson for the Boca Raton Ocean Rescue told the newspaper the woman remained calm and there was a little blood. A splint board was used to support the woman's arm and the shark as she lay on the stretcher.
 
The Boca Raton Regional Hospital operator told the AP that the woman had been treated and was in the process of being released Sunday afternoon.
 
Nurse sharks have the misconception of being docile, but we went inside the Florida Aquarium with biologist Eric Hovland, who is better known as "shark guy."
 
During our interview, we found out Hovland has also been bitten by a pup nurse shark in the hand. 
 
"It's on me. I was a big, crazy predator," he said.
 
Hovland points out a major difference that freed him from the shark bite unlike the case in Boca Raton.
 
"I hung on underwater," he said.
 
The shark in Boca Raton died while attached because it was removed out of the water and could not survive to remove itself. 
 
A shark bite can feel like a lifetime because of how strong the jaws and because nurse sharks feed by crushing crustaceans.
 
Hovland said since he kept the shark in the water and it eventually broke free.
 
"It probably took a good 15, 20 minutes before he eventually calmed down and then I kind of lifted his front lip up a bit and removed him from my hand," he said.
 
Nurse sharks, typically known as being bottom feeders, can stay in place for a period of time and look dead -- but don't let your curiosity fool you.