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Woman Loses Calf in Devastating Shark Attack After Mistaking It for a Large Fish

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A case of mistaken identity had tragic consequences for Tabatha Sullivent, who lost her calf to a shark attack while swimming off the southern coast of Texas. She mistook the shark for a large fish, which led to a devastating encounter.

A Day at the Beach Turns Tragic

Tabatha and Cary spent their 16th wedding anniversary in the hospital together after their ordeal. (Facebook)

Tabatha was at South Padre Island with her husband Cary and daughter Skylar to celebrate Skylar’s 15th birthday when the attack occurred.

Initial Sightings

The mum explained she initially thought the shark was just a ‘huge fish’. (X/@money_bubby)

The family noticed something grey in the water, which Tabatha assumed was a large fish.

The Attack

Great White Shark
Great White Shark with mouth open. Image via Depositphotos

As Tabatha kicked at the supposed fish, a bull shark bit her left leg, severely injuring her calf and causing blood to pour into the water.

Heroic Husband

Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, with open mouth. False Bay, South Africa, Atlantic Ocean. Image via depositphotos.

Cary rushed to help his wife, fighting off the shark, but he was bitten twice in the process.

Beachgoers to the Rescue

Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) breaching in an attack on seal , South Africa. Image via Depositphotos

Onlookers helped the couple get back to the shore and alerted emergency services.

Hospital Ordeal

Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) breaching in an attack. Hunting of a Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias). South Africa. Image Via Depositphoto

The couple spent their 16th wedding anniversary in the hospital together, reflecting on their narrow escape.

Shock and Realization

Silhouette of jumping Great White Shark. Red sky of sunrise. Great White Shark breaching in attack. Scientific name: Carcharodon carcharias. South Africa. Image via Depositphotos

Tabatha recalled the shock and numbness she felt as she tried to get to safety, aided by her husband and other beachgoers.

Medical Response

Great white Shark Swimming. Image by Gerald Schömbs via Unsplash

Tabatha underwent surgery to clean her wound, while Cary was released from the hospital soon after.

Ongoing Recovery

Great white shark smiling
Great white shark smiling. By Hermanus Backpackers – Great White Shark Cage Diving, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7889952

Tabatha faces multiple reconstructive surgeries, though doctors are hopeful she will keep her leg and walk again.

Fundraising for Recovery

Great White Shark. Image via Canva Pro

A GoFundMe page was set up to support Tabatha’s lengthy recovery process.

Shark Behavior

Great White shark ready to attack
Great White shark while coming to you on deep blue ocean background. Image via Depositphotos

Experts believe the same shark was responsible for attacking four people on the same day.

Authorities’ Response

Great White Shark. Image via Depositphotos

South Padre Island Fire Chief Jim Pig reported that the shark was pushed out to deeper water.

Shark Characteristics

Tagged great white shark in the blue ocean
Great white shark in the blue ocean. Image via Depositphotos

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department described the shark as approximately six feet long and reiterated that such attacks are rare.

Public Awareness

Great White shark
Great White shark while coming to you on deep blue ocean background. Image via Depositphotos

The incident highlights the importance of understanding shark behavior and the risks associated with swimming in shark-inhabited waters.

Safety Measures

Great White Shark Swimming in Blue Water. Image by Gerald Schömbs via Unsplash

Authorities continue to educate the public on how to stay safe and avoid shark encounters while enjoying the beach.

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