Written By: Chris
I got my first experience with shark rash a couple of weekends ago and it was much more unpleasant than I thought it would be!
Craig hooked a nice bull shark 3 weeks ago. It was a fat, feisty five and a half footer. It came in exhausted, so we were rushing to get it back in the water and probably being a little more careless than we usually are.
I was standing over the shark unhooking it when BAM! It hit me full force in each leg! Luckily, he missed the berries. It felt like someone had slammed me in the leg with a baseball bat. I look down and I see blood running down my left calf and my right inner thigh!
But the shark never bit me… Nope it only slapped me with its tail! But why was I bleeding? Many people don’t know that a sharks skin is actually rough almost like a cat’s tongue. If you touch the shark from head to tail it feels smooth, but if you touch it in the opposite direction it feels rough. The larger a shark gets the rougher its skin can be also. Kind of like the difference between a coarse grade sand paper and a fine grade sand paper.
I had always known how a shark’s skin can feel like sand paper and I had even been told about “shark rash”, but I had never experienced it. Until that day. The scrape wasn’t really that deep. It just covered a lot of area, and it burned like heck. But the worst part was yet to come!
Shark skin is covered in Staph and Strep bacteria. You can also pick up Vibrio from the salt water. Getting a wound cleaned up is one of the most important things you can do. Especially when wounded on shark skin. The best way to kill these bacteria and viruses is with rubbing alcohol or peroxide. So I think you can guess what happened next. I bit my shirt while Craig held me down and drenched both of my legs with rubbing alcohol.
The pain was awful, but it wouldn’t compare to the pain of an infection that could result in an amputation. It could have been a lot worse.
Being prepared with first aid on the beach is something important that new fishermen need to do.
I won’t underestimate a shark’s power again when handling it! Safety on the beach is critical, especially when you are rushing around trying to get a tired shark released. There are so many things that can go wrong in the blink of an eye, and just remember, that sometimes a sharks teeth aren’t the most dangerous part!