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Shark bites tourist in Puerto Rico bay

Associated Press / August 19, 2011

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SAN JUAN - A shark estimated at 6 feet long bit a tourist earlier this week while she swam in a popular bioluminescent bay at night, doctors in Puerto Rico said yesterday.

The woman, identified as Lydia Strunk of Idaho, 27, faces several months of physical therapy and will remain hospitalized until the weekend, said Dr. Ernesto Torres.

The wound is about 10 inches long and runs from below her knee to the ankle, said Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, trauma director at the Rio Piedras Medical Center.

“It was like [the shark] tried to tear away,’’ he said. “She has an imprint of all the shark’s teeth.’’

Strunk is expected to make a full recovery but will likely have some nerve damage and limited movement in her right foot. Doctors repaired four tendons that are used for flexing the foot, and it will take up to five months for Strunk’s damaged nerves to grow back, he said.

The shark bite was confirmed by a marine biologist, but he could not identify the type of shark because no teeth were recovered, Torres said.

Strunk has declined to speak to the news media and does not want photos of her injury released, doctors said.

Her parents were expected to arrive in the US Caribbean territory yesterday.

Strunk was one of 16 people kayaking late Tuesday in the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay in Vieques, a tiny island just east of Puerto Rico.

She jumped into the water with four other people when something hit the leg of the person next to her.

Seconds later, Strunk was bitten, doctors said.

“The shark’s mouth basically clamped over her calf,’’ Rodriguez said.

The shark was likely curious, according to the biologist who analyzed the bite.

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