FORT PIERCE, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida surfer is on the road to recovery after he was attacked by a shark in Fort Pierce last week.
Matt Picarelli, 36, told WPTV that he was surfing at Pepper Park Beach on the state’s east coast when he suddenly felt a shark bite down.
As he recalled the frightening moment, Picarelli said the attack happened so quickly that it didn’t even feel real. He explained how the shark was next to him before it “took a chomp out of [his] foot” and quickly left.
“Everything happening so quickly, it didn’t feel real at all. It felt very surreal,” Picarelli told WPTV. Strangers helped Picarelli out of the water and a friend rushed him to an area hospital as he was “bleeding everywhere.”
He needed 50 stitches and suffered a broken tendon and chipped bone. Since the attack, Picarelli said that he keeps replaying the bite in his head.
“Every night, I’ve been having nightmares about it,” Picarelli told the outlet. “I’m having sharks, whether I’m in the water or even in a room, coming towards me and biting my leg, biting my arm, biting my side, biting something, and attacking me.”
Despite the painful and terrifying experience, Picarelli said he’s finding the strength to stay positive because he realizes the situation could’ve been much worse. He even said that he plans to return to the water eventually. Picarelli plans to let his foot heal for a few weeks before starting physical therapy.
While it isn’t clear what kind of shark attacked Picarelli, a massive great white shark recently pinged off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. Maple, measuring 11 feet, 7 inches, was last along Florida’s east coast in January, according to tracking data.
Florida reported the most shark attacks in the U.S. last year at 16, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.