Santa Rosa man attacked by shark in Miami, suffers severe leg injury

It took Mark Bowden a few moments to realize what had happened after the shark attacked his leg.

“It felt almost like a large log hit my leg. I wasn’t sure exactly what happened, I was a little confused,” the 31-year-old Santa Rosa man said Friday.

Bowden was bodysurfing Wednesday on Miami’s South Beach when a blacktip shark bit his calf, creating an 8-inch gash and cutting well into his muscle. When Bowden realized something was wrong, he swam to shore, saying he was nervous the shark would bite him again.

“I started swimming out of the water pretty frantically,” he said. “That was probably the scariest and most traumatic part of it for me was trying to get out of the water. It wasn’t that deep but I just didn’t know what happened.”

Once out of the water, he ran to the lifeguard station. His girlfriend helped hold his foot up and the Miami Beach Ocean rescue provided medical assistance, while Bowden says he laughed in disbelief.

Bowden’s injury required surgery and he spent the night at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. He walked out of the hospital Thursday, his right calf wrapped in a bandage.

Shockingly, he recalls, the bite wasn’t painful at all.

“Surprisingly the attack didn’t hurt at all. I didn’t feel like I was bit and I guess the shark’s teeth are so razor-sharp and it was a clean bite and I really didn’t have any pain,” he said. Only now, two days later, he feels the soreness from the attack.

His experience was featured on the Today show on Friday.

Bowden was swimming among schools of fish on the beach when the blacktip shark approached. Blacktip sharks can be up to 8 feet long and are known for feeding near shore, according to National Geographic.

“I feel like if I had a little more local knowledge of Miami I wouldn’t have gone in the water,” Bowden said. “I guess if you see lots of fish in the water, it may not be a good idea to go in. That would be my word of caution.”

Bowden started surfing while attending Cardinal Newman High School, spending his weekends with his friends at Salmon Creek and Dillon Beach. Now, he owns a local organic tea company, Tea and Trumpets.

“I’m actually going to go to the farmer’s market tomorrow,” he said of his recovery. “Overall, I’m doing great.”

He plans to take a break from swimming, but won’t stay out of the water for long.

“I think at some point I’ll be going back in,” he told reporters in Florida. "Plus ... what are the chances of having two shark attacks? That’s got to be zero.”

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