Stuart Man bit by Shark at Ft Pierce Beach. Now what?
Trials and Tribulations of life after a shark bite!
On March 12 , Matthew Picarelli was body surfing after a full day of surfing when he got bit on his right his foot by a 4- or 5-foot spinner shark.
Matt is now 36. He moved to Stuart when he was 30. He was an avid surfer his whole life. His dad was an avid surfer. He’s also very athletic. He runs, bikes, does triathlons. Very health minded. Always on the move!
He works as a corporate videographer. He’s a 1099 worker. That means he gets money but no benefits.
Let’s get a few things out of the way.
Florida is the shark bite capital of the world. Having said that there are not really a lot of shark bites.
Although the number of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide decreased in 2022, a study from the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File found that last year Florida recorded the highest number of reported shark bites in the world.
Some experts say this is a case of mistaken identity.
Some say thats not true.
Dave Pearson an expert from Australia said “The old “case of mistaken identity ” myth has been proved to be wrong time and time again. Many attacks where the shark targets a specific person and pushes other people out of the way to get back to that person.”
When I asked him why he said this is the million dollar question.
But I want to be clear we are not blaming the shark. The Shark is just being a shark!
When Matt or anyone else got bit no one went searching for the shark in the ocean and killed him. We do this with gators and bears and other animals. Thats a conversation for another day.
I’m gonna post this and a bunch of people will get triggered. A bunch of others will say well if t doesn’t happen that often why are we even talking about and shouldn’t we be talking about something more important? I think it is important to talk about these things. So if your triggered take a deep breath. Thats about you. It’s not about me or this story.
Sometimes life is just luck. My Uncle Ed died last month. He insisted his whole life was luck. His good fortune was luck. In a lot of ways I would disagree with him. But in two instances I would not. One instance is he got snagged by a fish hook and it closely missed his eye. It happened when I was young and I don’t remember the details.
The other was a about five years ago. He was driving to his home in Jupiter on the Florida Turnpike in St Lucie County. He was in the southbound lane. In the north bound lane there was a truck that had glass that somehow got hit and slammed into the guard rail and the glass went flying like a saucer into the north bound lane into thru my uncles windshield on the passenger side. If it went on his side he would have been decapitated and if his grandson was sitting there he would have been also.
He was fine. I went and got him from the ER at the hospital with a few scrapes. His car not so much. Talk about luck.
Things happen. Accidents happen.
We are living life and then a plot point comes and changes everything.
Back to Matthew. So here we have Matthew livin the good life. Then a shark bites his foot. In an instance his life has changed.
St. Lucie County Fire District responders were dispatched.
When emergency responders arrived, they helped him to his friend’s car, who drove him to Lawnwood Hospital in Fort Pierce. He’s just this kind of person. Very positive! Don’t worry about me (prob mixed with a lot of shock. So if this happens to you take the ambulance. You are not in your right mind to make a decision)
The bite broke one of Matts tendons and chipped a bone in his foot. He had surgery on the foot, noting doctors sewed 50 stitches to mend his wound.
He has a follow up on his birthday with ortho on April 24. Until then he in non-weight bearing. Hard to be a videographer and earn a living when you can’t walk.
Here is a photo of Matt’s mom changing his dressing. There are lots of photos of his injury. When I saw them I went running for the wound care supplies but there are too many who will make a big deal about. So we are skipping that part.
Here is where he is at right now. His stitches are out. He made it through the beginning where everyone was worried about an infection. He is so grateful about having his toes but at this period of initial healing it’s a huge worry because of the infections you can get after being bit by a shark. So no stitches. no wound. no dressings. All good stuff. But not allowed to put any weight on his foot.
Just a normal guy livin life and a shark bites his foot cause he thinks it’s some yummy lunch.
Life can change in an instant.
I called my friend Jessica Veatch. She is Violet’s mom. You remember Violet. In summer 2017 Violet was the 3-year old-girl when she got bit by a shark at Bathtub Reef Beach.
Here is Violet!
Violet was in the water with her mother at Bathtub Beach when she got bit by a shark. She was airlifted to St Mary’s Hospital where she underwent surgery. Doctors said she received more than 100 stitches for the bite in her leg. With physical therapy and tremendous support she was able to walk again. And thoughts and prayers. Thousands of people sent thoughts and prayer to Violet. This precious little girl sitting in a little bit of water and her life changed in an instant.
At her young age she is a member of a very small club.
Jessica Veatch, Violet’s mother, said she saw people spearfishing and standing on the reef. Veatch said they came through the swimming area with “whatever fish they had on their spears.”
Violet, who is 9 years old and in 3rd grade, has recovered from this. She is also a brand Ambassador for Shark Off.
Jessica found her passion as an advocate and went on to do some amazing things. In 2019 Jessica got this after some really hard campaigning. I’ve seen this time and time again. Awful things happen. People triumph.
Here’s a good article that Meghan McRoberts from WPTV wrote. She covered Violet and Jessica extensively.
New shore-based shark fishing regulations to take effect July 1
FWC now requiring the following new rules and regulations surrounding education, permitting and equipment.
If you are older than 16 and plan to target or keep sharks caught from shore, including structures attached to shore such as jetties, bridges, and piers, you are required to pass an online educational course.
While the state did not create rules for how far someone should shark fish from guarded beaches, counties have made their own rules, including Martin County which requires shore-based shark fisherman to be 1,000 yards from guarded beaches.
Chumming is also banned when fishing for any species from the beach.
Taking a horrifying situation and creating some amazing is wonderful thing. It could have gone a lot of different ways and for some people be it a shark bit or a car accident or a simple fall it could all go south. What happens then? What kind of support can people expect.
What Jessica wasn’t expecting was death threats.
Here is a mom who’s child has been through a most unique trauma and people are threatening her.
Lucky for all of us she’s got a lot of strength and intestinal fortitude.
She was even a part of creating this:
Life can change in a second. It’s what you do after that matters.
So where are we at with Matt?
No weight bearing. Waiting for the ortho appointment. Hoping the doctors will tell him everything is going to be fine but worried about the lasting effects of this. Worried about the medical bills. They are coming in and he’s making calls and arrangements. It’s hard to pay things when you don’t have any income thru no fault of your own.
Here is Matt’s gofundme.
Help him out if you can,
It’s a shame in our world today we have to have gofundme to pay the medical bills. Another conversation for another day.
When I spoke to Matt he said he was pretty uncomfortable doing this. He’s that kind of person just figuring life out as it goes along. If you can help please do if not just pass it along.
If you have any ideas feel free to comment or email me [email protected].
What can we do to avoid getting bit a shark?
As I have said sharks live in ocean. We are not their designated dinner.
Jessica offered this:
avoid brightly colored bathing suits , no jewelry , no yum yum yellow
What color is best to repel sharks?
But if you are worried about sharks, and you do not want to attract their attention, then you can stick to wearing dark colors, such as black or blue. This will not contrast too much underwater and will help you blend in with the surroundings. You should also avoid wearing contrasting patterns too
Does neon yellow attract sharks?
Shark expert, George Burgess, refers to bright colored yellow as “yum, yum yellow,” to a shark. Since sharks see contrast colors, anything that is very bright against lighter or darker skin can look like a bait fish to a shark.
To reduce your risk of a shark attack the International Shark Attack File recommends:
- Always stay with a buddy, since sharks are more likely to approach a solitary individual.
- Do not wander too far from shore. Being far from shore also isolates you from any emergency assistance.
- Exercise caution when occupying the area between sandbars or near steep drop offs
- Avoid being in the water during low light hours (dawn or dusk) and at night when many sharks are most active and feeding.
- Sharks have never been shown to be attracted to the smell of human blood, however, it may still be advisable to stay out of the water if bleeding from an open wound.
- Wearing shiny jewelry is discouraged because the reflected light may resemble the sheen of fish scales.
- Avoid areas with known effluents or sewage and those being used by sport or commercial anglers, especially if there are signs of bait fishes or feeding activity. Diving seabirds are good indicators of these fishes’ presence.
- Avoid water being used by recreational or commercial anglers.
- Sightings of porpoises or dolphins do not indicate the absence of sharks, both often eat the same food items.
- Use extra caution when waters are murky, some shark species will have just as much trouble seeing as you.
- Avoid uneven tanning, bright-colored and/or high contrasting clothing, sharks see contrast particularly well.
- Refrain from excess splashing, particularly in a single spot. Sharks can hear the low-frequency sounds from splashing and may investigate to see if there is a fish/prey in distress.
- Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present. Slowly and calmly evacuate the water if sharks are seen.
For more information on reducing your risk of a shark bite, click here.
Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments and please have fun but be safe in the ocean.