A spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said the bite pattern on the victim is consistent with that of a sandbar shark.
Maybe it was a shark and maybe it wasn’t, but whatever it was it resulted in 42 stitches in the leg of 12-year-old Jordan Prushinski, who was apparently bitten by something while playing in the surf Monday off 119th Street.
“I was swimming and a wave had just crashed and I was right on the edge of the crash zone,” Prushinski told WYOU, a CBS-affiliated media outlet in Scranton, Pa. “I thought a horseshoe crab had got lifted up and hit against my shins, and I don’t like the sea creatures, so I rushed out immediately to find blood everywhere, with cuts all over my left leg.”
Jordan’s mother Melissa Prushinski went on to say that fellow beachgoers assisted lifeguards in administering first aid to her daughter while waiting for help. Jordan was rushed to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin where she received treatment for 20 cuts on her leg.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there was no confirmation on what species — let alone subspecies — was responsible for the bite.
“That’s the part we’re having trouble confirming,” said Ocean City Beach Patrol Capt. Butch Arbin, whose division is investigating the incident. “There was something. We know the injury happened (but little else at this point.)
Arbin said that he has been in contact with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and other agencies that are more experienced at identifying animal bites.
As of Wednesday afternoon, OCBP would not confirm that the injury was even caused by an animal, which is not unprecedented given the ongoing investigation.
“I’m not an expert in (determining what causes a bite),” Arbin said. “(What I can say) is it wasn’t an attack and that’s evidenced by the wound patterns. When something attacks, it doesn’t bite and release. It holds on, it shakes its head and it tries to disable its prey. [This was] bite, release. That was it.”
Witnesses to the incident described a high-pressure but orderly scene.
“I was right near her,” said Billy Reuter of Greencastle, Pa. “I just remember hearing her say, ‘I was bit by something.’ I saw her getting out of the water upset (and) asking for help. The lifeguards acted quickly and started giving her medical attention. They did a really good job keeping the beach crowd calm.”
Reuter said that his brother told him he observed “shark-like” shadows in the water, which was relatively clear on Monday.
Arbin said that OCBP interviewed multiple witnesses, but no one reported seeing anything in the water —including the victim herself.
Regardless of what caused the incident, Reuter did not seem deterred by what occurred.
“My family has a place down here and we have been coming to the same spot on the beach for over 30 years,” Reuter said. “I have never seen anything like this before. It's a very rare situation and probably will never happen again.”
Sharks, however, aren’t the only fish that can inflict a painful bite. As some local surfers will attest, big chopper bluefish have razor-sharp teeth and have been known to chomp down on anything that gets in the way when they’re pursing prey.