A New Jersey teenager is recovering after he was attacked by what he believes was a shark while he was fishing in Florida.
Christian Mercurio, a rising high school senior in Randolph, N.J., was fishing in waist-high water off the coast in Sanibel, Fla. a week ago when his legs and feet were suddenly seized underwater.
"It felt like my feet were crushed by cement," he recalled.
He began screaming for help, and his mother, thinking he was joking around, told him to stop.
"My mom was like, 'Don't yell shark. You will cause a panic,'" Mercurio said.
But his mother, Lisa Mercurio, flew into action when she saw what was happening to her son. A registered nurse, she rushed to Christian's side.
"We sat him down, elevated his legs," said Lisa Mercurio. "Luckily, people started throwing us beach towels."
Florida investigators think it was a six- to eight-foot-long bull shark that went after Christian, most likely mistaking him for a fish in the murky water. The teeth missed major arteries, but they pierced his leg and left a wound on his foot.
Christian thinks the shark became more aggressive as he tried to escape, "once when I was fishing, and the second time as I was trying to run in," he said.
The Mercurios say they will go back in the water despite the ordeal, and all of them are grateful the run-in with the shark was a survivor story.
"It's still surreal," said Lisa Mercurio. "Definitely still shocked. He spend the week watching 'Shark Week.' I spent the week with nightmares."