College student survives shark attack on Texas coast

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by MICHELLE HOMER and COURTNEY ZUBOWSKI

KHOU

Posted on June 1, 2011 at 11:47 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 1 at 7:42 PM

SURFSIDE, Texas — A 22-year-old college student is recovering from a shark attack that happened near Surfside Monday.

Kori Robertson and six friends spent Memorial Day hanging out at the beach on Follett's Island. Robertson and another friend ventured into waist-deep water about 50 yards from shore.

Around 3 p.m., she felt pain on her thigh.

"All of a sudden, I felt something jerk me and bite," Robertson said.

Robertson and her friend Shelby thought it might have been a jellyfish until they looked at her leg and saw the teeth marks.

"She was like, 'Oh my gosh,' and... she started freaking out," Robertson said.

That's when they hustled back to shore.

"I was kind of like swimming and thinking 'I just don't want to get bitten again,'" Robertson told KHOU.

Her boyfriend wrapped a towel around the wound to stop the bleeding and rushed her to UTMB in Galveston.

"I really didn't want to look at it," Robertson remembered. "I've never seen anything like that before and it hurt really bad."

Doctors in the emergency room didn't believe it was a shark attack until they saw Robertson's wound. They think she was bitten by a shark approximately 5-feet long.

"The doctors said it bit me twice. It kinda bit, then it bit again," Robertson said.

Doctors didn't stitch up the wound because they're concerned about infection.

Robertson, a University of Houston senior, said she will never go that far into the water again.

"It was traumatic," she said.

Shark attacks in water along the Texas Gulf Coast aren’t common, but they’re not unheard of according to the aquarium curator at the Houston Zoo.

In this case, experts there say the shark may have been confused and bumped into Robertson thinking she was prey.

“There probably was a school of fish moving amongst the lady’s legs and the shark couldn’t see well because of the murky waters at this time of the year and it just mistook her for a prey item when he bumped into her, said curator George Brandy.

Brandy said, despite what happened, swimmers shouldn’t fear that they will have the same experience when going into the water in the same area.

“It’s not necessarily the case that you will see more of these. It’s just that the circumstances were right, unfortunately, for the lady were right, for that animal to bump into somebody,” said Brandy.

A spokesperson for UTMB at Galveston, where Robertson was treated, said shark bites are not commonly seen in the hospital’s emergency room, but they are not rare.

“Apparently they happen most often to fisherman when they are trying to unhook them,” said UTMB Media Relations Specialist Maureen Bayless Balleza.

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