Shark attack victim speaks out after near-death experience: ‘Felt like a punch’

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A Florida man has spoken out after he was attacked by two sharks off the coast of the Bahamas, revealing that it felt “like a punch”.

Marlin Deere Wakeman, 24, was at the Flying Fish Marina on Long Island in the Bahamas on 26 April when he slipped and fell from a dock and landed in the shark-infested ocean.

“When I ended up in the water, I pretty much knew what was going to happen,” Mr Wakeman told reporters in Florida on Thursday, saying that the waters are sometimes so crowded with sharks that you could almost “walk on their heads”.

Next thing he knew, he was under attack from two sharks.

“He grabbed me, pulled my head underwater and then let go of me,” he said of the first shark bite to his knee. “I got really lucky he didn’t head shake or hold on for a while.”

Another shark then bit his shoulder, he said.

At that point, the adrenaline kicked in and Mr Wakeman pulled himself back onto his boat.

“I had so much adrenaline going through my body that it was like a fight or flight kind of thing,” he said. “I got back into the boat and kind of assessed what happened and looked at my leg. It wasn’t really bleeding yet. It was kind of, you know, all mangled.”

He said that it felt like “a punch” when the shark bit his shoulder, adding: “You really don’t feel the teeth going in.”

Marlin Wakeman, 24, seen having treatment (left) after being attacked by two sharks in the Bahamas (ABC News 10/WPLG/CNN/Marlin Wakeman)

After getting to safety, Mr Wakeman’s friend texted his father to let him know what had happened.

“As a parent, I can tell you that time really does stand still,” Rufus Wakeman said on Thursday. “Everything in the periphery goes to a blur. It’s the worst type of text you can get.”

He knew a surgeon at St Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida, and so flew his son there for treatment.

Mr Wakeman underwent stitches for his injuries, with doctors saying it was amazing that he had managed to keep all of his limbs. His stitches came out on Thursday.

Marlin Wakeman seen shortly after he was attacked by two sharks on 26 April 2024 (ABC News 10/Marlin Wakeman)

Doctors said that one of the bites was dangerously close to an artery, meaning things could have ended very differently.

“The fact that there are 20 sharks in there and you were able to get out of there and still have a leg is amazing,” Dr Robert Borrego, the surgeon who treated Marlin, told him at Thursday’s press conference.

The surgeon estimated that the sharks which bit Mr Wakeman were between seven and eight feet long, judging by the size of the bite marks.

Despite the lucky escape, photos show Mr Wakeman smiling throughout much of what he described as a “pretty crazy experience”.

While he is still on crutches for now, he has vowed to head back to the Bahamas as soon as he can.

“Maybe I’ll have some nightmares here and there, but I think I’ll be all right,” he said.

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