Florida man describes moment shark bit him while surfing

Matt Picarelli says he nearly lost all of his toes on 1 foot during attack

Matt Picarelli has a long road to recovery.

He said he was only in the water for about 15 minutes when a shark chomped down on his foot while surfing in Fort Pierce.

“Something grabbed my foot and right when it bit me I saw the shark, it kind of flailed in the water and swam away from me really quick,” he said.

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Right after that, he said he told a friend he was with that he had been bitten.

“We gotta get out of the water, I got bit. She thought I was joking, I literally grabbed her and said ‘Get out of the water, get out of the water.’ She still thinks I’m joking, I get to the shore, we both look down and it was horrible,” Picarelli said.

He said the four to five-foot-long shark did a lot of damage.

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“The scene of it was brutal. There was blood everywhere when I got onto the beach,” Picarelli said. “It was a fully opened wound, I almost lost all of my toes, 50 stitches, broken tendon, chipped bone.”

The surfer, who lives a very active life, said the attack — which happened in early March — will take several more weeks if not months to recover from, but he believes he will make a full recovery.

However, the experience has been challenging emotionally.

“That first week of it happening, I couldn’t process it for a few days,” Picarelli said. “I was having some nightmares, I was having some terrors. Then some of the dreams I was having — it turned into like me being in that same situation getting bit by a shark, then it eventually turned into me sitting at home in my bed and a shark blasting through the door, it was crazy.”

He said he does want to get back in the water, but moving forward he will be more careful.

Picarelli has started a GoFundMe to help with his medical bills.

You can learn more about Picarelli’s shark encounter and why he believed the water was clear of sharks on the day he was bitten. Listen to the full conversation on Florida’s Fourth Estate. You can download the podcast from wherever you listen to podcasts or watch anytime on News 6+.

About the Author:

Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.