Shark is lifted from water and punched in the head after attacking boy at Florida beach


A lemon shark, the creature Bitner believes attacked him Sunday. - PHOTO VIA WIKIPEDIA
  • Photo via Wikipedia
  • A lemon shark, the creature Bitner believes attacked him Sunday.

Josh Bitner Jr. is one 12-year-old you don't want to mess with. After being attacked by a shark in the shallow water of Fernandina Beach Sunday afternoon, the boy lifted the shark from the water, punched it in the head and yelled until nearby adults were able to drag him to the shore.

"I grabbed its top fin and lifted it out of the water and punched it,” Bitner said to the Florida Times Union. “It was just instinct. If something is turning me around and hurting me, then I’m going to punch it.”

According to the Time Union, the boy, who is a native of Sparks, Georgia, is currently being treated at UF Health Jacksonville for the bite to his leg.

This shark attack was the first to occur at Fernandina Beach this year, but marks the 17th for Florida as a whole, according to the International Shark Attack File. There have been 717 confirmed shark attacks in Florida since 1882.

Bitner isn't the only young boy to suffer a shark attack on Florida shores: In June, 11-year-old Lucas Vertullo of Winter Springs was bitten on the calf by what authorities believe was a juvenile bull shark. 

Nor was he the only person to fend off a shark with his fists. In May, UCF student Josh Green dissuaded a shark from munching on his ankle with a series of swift punches to the snout.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.