Young Henry Kreckman returned from spring break to his fourth grade class at Netherwood Knoll Elementary School in Oregon on Wednesday with a hole in his shirt and a bruise on his chest.
That’s where the shark bit him.
Or rather, where a young nurse shark gave him a bloody suction-hickey and a not-so-loving nibble in the waters off a resort in the Bahamas on March 26.
“It was clamped on to his chest,” said Henry’s dad, Clint.
He and Sara Kreckman described the incident involving two of their three sons, a 2 1/2-foot long nurse shark and an unidentified man who instigated the attack.
Henry, 9, was at the beach with his mom, his brother Jack, and two friends, “swimming around looking at fish,” said Clint Kreckman, when the boys spotted a small nurse shark in about 3 1/2 feet of water.
They left it alone, he said, but a man in the water grabbed the shark by its tail, held it up above the surface of the water and invited the boys to “pet the shark.”
The boys said no, but as the man held the flailing shark up, it “flipped out of his hands and attached itself to Henry’s chest.
“It wouldn’t let go, the guy yanked it off and at that point there was blood and it looked a lot worse than what it really was,” Clint Kreckman said.
Said Sara Kreckman: “I heard Henry screaming ‘get it off me, get it off me,’ I stand up and my friend goes running up the beach yelling ‘shark bite’ and I go running into the water.”
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She saw the man lift her son and bring him bleeding toward the beach, she said.
Kreckman, a pediatrician, got her son’s shirt off, bunched it up and put pressure on the wound.
She described the injury as a “triangle bruise the size of a tennis ball and puncture wounds at the top and at the bottom.
“And besides that, the shark made a perfect hole in Henry’s Under Armour shirt,” she said.
Resort staff took the boy to its medical station and an ambulance crew was summoned, but hospitalization was not necessary.
Sara Kreckman said she was equipped for medical emergencies: “I have three boys, I had all sorts of gauze and ointments.”
The man who held up the shark, described by Sara Kreckman as being in his late 20s, disappeared after carrying Henry to the beach. By the time they returned to Oregon, the bruise had started to heal and all that was left was to put notice of the adventure on the family Facebook page.
Sara Kreckman recalled saying to her friend on the beach, when they saw the man lift the shark: “He probably shouldn’t be doing that.”
According to National Geographic, nurse sharks “are slow-moving bottom-dwellers and are, for the most part, harmless to humans. However, they can be huge — up to 14 feet (4.3 meters) — and have very strong jaws filled with thousands of tiny, serrated teeth, and will bite defensively if stepped on or bothered by divers who assume they’re docile.”