Delaware officials on alert after shark bite claim [Updated]

 (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Brett Phibbs)

(AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Brett Phibbs)

Delaware officials closed all swimming areas at Cape Henlopen State Park as a precaution after a teenager claimed he was biten by a shark on Monday.

The Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Parks & Recreation launched an investigation on Tuesday after a Delmar teenager said he was bitten on the arm by a shark. 

The 16-year-old told officials he felt something grab his arm as he stood in the water at approximately 5 p.m. on Monday. The boy said he managed to get away by using his right arm to strike the shark to get it to release its bite. 

The teenager, whose identity was not released, was taken to the Beebe Medical Center where he treated for gashes on his left forearm.

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According to Chief Wayne Kline of Parks Enforcement, the main swimming beach at Cape Henlopen State Park will delay allowing swimmers in the water Tuesday until late in the morning, but lifeguards will go on duty at their scheduled time.

Lifeguards and DNREC marine bioligists will monitor the beaches for any unusual activity.

2 p.m. update from DNREC:

“Beaches at Cape Henlopen State Park on the Delaware coast were reopened for swimming just after 1 p.m. today by DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, after ground and aerial observation of the Atlantic Ocean found no sharks in the water in the area encompassing the park’s beaches.”

“Visibility was clear enough during aerial observation to discern schools of baitfish, including menhaden, sturgeon and cow-nose rays in the water, but no shark activity was seen. After making the flyover and conferring with marine biologists from DNREC and Delaware State University, Sec. O’Mara ordered the beaches reopened.”

“He also acted after considering the biologists’ consensus that the bite incurred yesterday by a 16-year-old boy at Cape Henlopen State Park, from what’s believed to have been a juvenile sand bar shark, should be treated as an isolated incident.”

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