Shark Bites Woman 'to the Bone' on Florida's Atlantic Coast

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By Tim Stelloh

A woman wading through waist-deep water just off Florida's Atlantic coast was bitten "to the bone" Sunday afternoon, a witness and authorities told NBC News.

Brevard County Ocean Rescue Chief Jeff Scabarozi said the 28-year-old woman was close to shore in Cocoa Beach, near Cape Canaveral, when a shark bit her ankle about 3 p.m. ET. NBC station WESH of Orlando identified the woman as a tourist and described the injury as a 6- to 7-inch gash on her leg.

The witness, who was about 100 feet away, never saw the shark — "only jellyfish," she said. Beachgoers helped the woman out of the water, and she was transported to a hospital.

Paramedics treat an unidentified woman who was severely bitten by a shark Sunday in Cocoa Beach, Florida.NBC News Channel

"I looked over at her and she said, 'Somebody help me!'" said another witness, Holly Petersen.

"I saw the fin come up and slap her in the face, and she said, 'It got me,' so I grabbed her hand and drug her back to the shore," Petersen said.

Although there have been no shark sightings in the area, Scabarozi said, large groups of bait fish have been seen about a mile from shore.

In 2014, more than half of the country's 52 unprovoked attacks were in Florida; 10 of those bites were recorded in Volusia County, which is just north of Cocoa Beach.

Three people died in 72 unprovoked attacks around the globe last year. Two were in Australia, and one was in South Africa.

Becky Bratu and Erin Calabrese contributed.