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PALM BEACH, Fla. - The captain of a Florida dive boat that specializes in shark encounters was bitten on the hand Sunday, suffering injuries severe enough that he was airlifted to St. Mary’s Medical Center.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said the sheriff’s Marine One unit picked up Randall Jordan, the captain of Emerald Charters, after a distress call that he was bitten by a “sea creature.”
Jordan was in good condition, but still in the hospital Tuesday, according to a St. Mary’s Medical Center spokesman. His sister, Deborah Toohey, said he had to undergo “reattachment surgery.”
“He tries to teach people to not be afraid of sharks,” Toohey said. “He’s an avid environmentalist when it comes to sharks.”
Jordan did not return calls Tuesday.
In 2015, Jordan was sentenced to a year of probation, a $1,500 fine and 100 hours of community service after he was convicted of three misdemeanor charges stemming from illegally feeding sharks in Florida waters.
Florida banned feeding sharks in state waters in 2001, but it is still legal in federal waters, said Amanda Nalley, public information specialist for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management.
George Burgess, who investigates bites for the International Shark Attack file at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said a bite that occurs when someone is feeding a shark is considered a “provoked” incident.
Burgess said he will investigate the bite.
“The impression that shark diving operations give is that it’s a perfectly safe operation,” Burgess said. “It’s generally safe, but not perfectly safe.”
Jordan isn’t the first charter operator bitten while on a shark excursion.
In 2011, Jim Abernethy was flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center after being bitten on the arm. The bite happened about 18 miles north of West End, the Bahamas.