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Teenage girl loses leg after shark attack in waters off Florida Panhandle

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Teenage girl loses leg after shark attack in waters off Florida Panhandle
It wasn't immediately known exactly what type of shark attacked the girl in Florida on Thursday, but authorities said it was about 9 feet long. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

July 1 (UPI) -- A teenage girl has lost her leg, but is alive, after she was attacked by a shark along the coast in northwestern Florida on Thursday, authorities said.

Officials said the girl was in about 5 feet of water near a beach in Taylor County, which is where the Florida Panhandle begins to expand westward, when she was bitten by the shark.

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The attack occurred near Grassy Island just off Keaton Beach.

"A family member reportedly jumped in the water and beat the shark until the juvenile was free," the Taylor County Sheriff's Office said in a statement posted to Facebook.

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It wasn't immediately known exactly what type of shark attacked the girl, but authorities said it was about 9 feet long.

The teen was seriously injured and was flown to a hospital in Tallahassee about 80 miles away. Officials said she'd lost part of her leg.

Shark attacks are somewhat common near the beaches in Florida. Last year, about 60% of all unprovoked shark attacks in the United States -- and almost 40% of all attacks worldwide -- occurred in Florida.

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After Thursday's attack, the Taylor County Sheriff's Office reminded beach-goers to be vigilant and safe. They advise swimmers to avoid making erratic movements in the water, swimming in the ocean alone and swimming near fishermen and large schools of fish. Swimmers are also advised to avoid sand bars because sharks often congregate there.

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In 2021, there were almost 50 unprovoked shark attacks in the United States -- more than any other country.

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