A 7-year-old New Orleans boy was bitten by a shark in a brackish lake north of the city – a lake many boaters and swimmers didn’t even realize contains bull sharks.
Trent Trentacosta went sailing with his family on Lake Pontchartrain Friday afternoon.
"The kids were bunched up together playing, and Trent just started screaming," his mother Shelly Trentacosta told the Times-Picayune. "We started swimming to him, and I didn't know what was going on. I grabbed his leg, and there was a lot of blood."
She said at first she thought Trent stepped on a stingray, but there was too much blood.
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"(Trent) had been screaming so much," she said. "It wasn't until he settled down that he told us something charged at him from under the water.”
There were clear bite marks around Trent’s foot.
"He said that when he was swimming, something bumped him from the back,” his mother said. “He turned around to look, and then he felt it swim around to the front of him, and when he turned again, it charged at him.”
"We've been swimming in the lake forever," she explained. "You don't think something like that will happen. That was the last thought that crossed my mind.”
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Lake Pontchartrain is covers about 630 square miles. It empties into Lake Borgne in the east, which opens up to the Gulf of Mexico. At certain times during the year female bull sharks that are 7 to 8 feet long will enter the lake to lay eggs, but they’re uncommon in August.
“Generally, your big female bull sharks aren't in the lake right now. They've already moved in, pupped out and left," Mitchell Chevalier, who tags sharks for the University of New Orleans and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Times-Picayune.
"Now granted, there are still 6-footers in the lake, but I'm speechless that one might have bitten somebody,” he added.
Chevalier was skeptical until he saw pictures of Trent’s injured foot.
"Without a doubt, it's a bull shark -- probably around 5 feet," he said.
Trent is expected to make a full recovery. The family decided to forgo stitches and keep the 7-year-old’s foot wrapped and taped.
"I'm just glad it got him on the foot,” his mother said. “If it had gotten him on his calf or somewhere with some meat, it could have been a lot worse. He literally had to kick it off. It was clamped down."
Image source: Wikimedia Commons / William Eburn