Shark bite victim used martial arts training to escape shark

Published: Jun. 25, 2013 at 7:29 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2013 at 12:18 AM EDT
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KIAWAH ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Joshua Watson, a 14-year-old from Summerville is recovering after undergoing surgery for a shark bite that happened while he was swimming at Kiawah Island's Beachwalker Park on Tuesday.

The teen is a 2nd degree black belt in karate. He used his martial arts training to fight off the shark.

"So I tried to jerk my ankle away and I accidentally punched the shark," said Watson.

Delivering a quick punch to the nose, Watson says it was instinct when his karate skills kicked in.

"I think it did scare it," said Watson.

Playing a game in the water that turned all too real, Watson and his sister were pretending to be sharks while swimming.

Watson said, "At first I was actually really surprised because I never thought I would get bit by a shark, so it was kind of scary at first."

The punch may have turned the shark away, but not before it left a row of teeth marks on Watson's right leg.

"I tried to stay calm because the more your adrenaline rushes, the more blood comes out," said Watson.

He learned that trick from a movie, not Jaws the all time classic shark movie, but Soul Surfer. It's a movie about the true story of a young woman's journey back to surfing after losing her arm to a horrific shark bite.

While Watson will make a full recovery, Arnold Postell Senior Bioloigist at the South Carolina Aquarium says low visibility in the water could be the reason the shark bit the teenager.

Postell said, "The animal wasn't out hunting humans. He was out possibly feeding though. In low visibility he bumped into something. He might have smelled food from local bate, possibly a fisherman fishing and it was enough cues that he might have just taken a quick bite on something he didn't see."

Watson's family believes the shark was about four to five feet long. Postell says there are a wide variety of sharks swimming in our waters.

"Some of the more common ones would be Atlantic sharpnose or a sandbar shark, blacktip, blacknose, lemon sharks, bull sharks. We have a wide variety of shark species that could be in the shallows," said Postell.

Watson's parents are thankful he didn't suffer any long term injuries.

"I could've been so much worse and he's really gotten the best scenario possible for recovery," said Watson's mom Rebekah.

Watson's recovery is expected to be about six weeks and he'll be on crutches most of that time.

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