Nurse shark latches onto Florida man's belly, holds on for 30 minutes

By Ben Hooper

Sept. 28 (UPI) -- A Florida man shared video of a bizarre encounter where a nurse shark latched onto his belly in the Gulf of Mexico and refused to let go.

Ervin McCarty of Green Cove Springs posted a video to YouTube showing what happened when he was spearfishing and lobster diving off the coast of Marathon in the Florida Keys on Labor Day weekend.


McCarty said he was diving for a grouper speared about 12 feet down when the nurse shark chomped down on the flesh of his stomach.

"I turned to go back up for air and something hit me in the stomach," McCarty told WJXT-TV. "I didn't know if somebody kicked me or what, but whatever hit me was biting on to me."

"I had to grab it by both hands, keep it from shaking, and get up for air at the same time," he said.

McCarty said it took him about 20 minutes to get onto the boat with the nurse shark attached to his middle.

"I was out of breath. It was wearing me out. Took everything I had to keep it from shaking," he said.


McCarty said he and his friends tried to pry the shark off his skin, but they eventually had to resort to stabbing it.

It took about six minutes for the shark to lose enough blood to cause it to let go, but the ocean creature got in one last bite before surrendering.

"It hasn't changed a thing. I will continue to fish," McCarty said. "I will continue to snorkel -- just make sure there is not a nurse shark around!"

Officials said attacks by nurse sharks are rare, with only about seven bites recorded in Florida during the past century. In 2016, a Florida woman was taken to a hospital when a nurse shark latched onto her arm and refused to let go. The shark was dead when she arrived at the hospital, but remained clamped onto her arm.

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