Officials say teen likely bitten by shark at Jersey shore
Fifteen-year-old Maggie Drozdowski was down at the shore with her friend Sarah O’Donnell and her family for a weekend of surfing.
“We were about 50 feet in. I couldn’t touch the ground,” said Maggie.
Maggie, Sarah and Sarah’s brother were in the ocean in Stone Harbor near the beach on 109th Street.
Maggie was dangling from her surfboard with her body in the water when she felt something on her leg.
“I thought it was just a crab pinching my foot, but it felt bigger than that. My whole foot was in its mouth. I was shaking my foot as hard as I could. It was hard. It was like really heavy,” recalled Maggie.
She says after about five seconds it let go.
Sarah was nearby.
“I thought she was drowning because she got pulled under and she came up and screamed again like ‘I think something bit me! I think something bit me!'” said Sarah.
Maggie climbed onto her board and paddled herself to shore where she tried to walk.
“I immediately felt the pain in my foot. I looked at the back of my leg and there was a big chunk of skin missing from the back of my leg!” she said.
Maggie went to the hospital where she received six stitches in her foot and leg.
Maggie never saw the creature that bit her, but Stone Harbor officials say after having marine wildlife experts examine what happened, her injuries appear consistent with a shark bite.
“The sharks know the difference between their prey,” said Stockton University marine science professor Steve Nagiewicz.
He agrees Maggie’s injuries look like a bite from a small shark – one that probably didn’t intend to bite a human.
“The only time people come into the mix is when they’re in the water with the same food the shark is looking for. And in this case, the young girl who got bit was just in the wrong place, wrong time,” he said.
He adds with warming waters, more sharks have been found off the coast of New Jersey looking for food.
As for Maggie and her family, they’ll be spending a lot more time on dry land.
“Of course, you believe it but you don’t believe it. It’s unreal,” said Maggie’s mother Lisa Drozdowski.
“I can’t imagine never going in the ocean again,” said Maggie, “but probably not this summer,” she laughed.
At this point, Stone Harbor officials are not restricting any beach activity because of this. They are urging people to be vigilant in the ocean.
“Stone Harbor remains a beloved and popular destination for beachgoers from near and far. The local police and fire departments are fully committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of both residents and tourists,” said Mayor Judy Davies-Dunhour in a statement released Monday. “They are taking appropriate measures to thoroughly assess the situation and provide necessary updates to the public.”
If you do ever find yourself being bitten by a shark, Nagiewicz said Maggie did exactly the right thing: aggressively shaking or hitting the shark will usually cause it to let go.