13-Year-Old Girl Punches Shark During Attack Off Florida Beach

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: 1. Education Images / Universal Images Group / Getty Images 2. Karl Mondon / MediaNews Group / The Mercury News / Getty Images
Photo Credit: 1. Education Images / Universal Images Group / Getty Images 2. Karl Mondon / MediaNews Group / The Mercury News / Getty Images

A Florida girl is making headlines after a recent trip to the beach. While in a jetty at Fort Pierce Beach, she encountered one of the ocean’s most fearsome predators – a shark – and thankfully managed to escape the attack by using her fists to punch the creature.

Pathway to Fort Pierce Beach
Fort Pierce Beach, where the shark attack occurred. (Photo Credit: Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group / Getty Images)

13-year-old Ella Reed was sitting in shallow water with her friend when she suddenly felt a sharp pain in her side. “The shark itself was so powerful,” she told Local 10 News. “That was what I felt the most because it was hitting my stomach really hard.”

According to Reed, it bit her in the stomach first, prompting her to punch it away. However, the shark swam back at her, and she urged her friend to get to safety as she tried to fend off the animal. As she told TODAY, “Right as it bit me in the stomach, I shoved my arm where it was biting me so it didn’t get my stomach and it got my arm instead. Then I hit it with my other hand, like hit its nose or its face.”

Thinking her mother wasn’t home, Reed FaceTimed her brother. Devin Reed was actually at the house, but thought her daughter was pulling a prank. “At first I thought she was joking actually, and then she says, ‘I’m not joking!’ And then she took the camera and she panned it on her body, and I kind of just froze and freaked out.”

Reed’s friend drove her home in a golf cart, after which her mother took her to a nearby fire department. She was then brought to the hospital, where she received 19 stitches. As doctors examined her, they found she’d received bites to her stomach, arm, finger and the top of her knee.

“I was kinda in shock about everything, so I wasn’t really in pain because the adrenaline was through the roof,” she said.

Reed believes it was a five-to-six-foot-long bull shark that attacked her. Found in shallow oceans and rivers worldwide, the sea creature is known for its aggressive nature. It tends to prefer areas where the water is warm.

According to the University of Florida, the state is the shark bite capital of the world, with the majority of unprovoked attacks occurring in the United States and Australia. In 2022, 57 unprovoked and 37 provoked assaults occurred worldwide, with 16 documented in Florida.

Other states to see shark attacks were New York, Texas, Hawaii, South Carolina, California, Alabama and North Carolina.

Bull shark swimming underwater
Bull shark. (Photo Credit: Joseph Prezioso / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

More from us: Florida Man Breaks Record for Longest Time Spent Living Underwater – 74 Days and Counting!

Reed is recovering at home and plans to return to the ocean once she’s completely healed. She’s proud of her scars, as she knows the encounter could have been much worse. “She’s like, ‘If I went through it, I’m going to show people,'” her mother said. “No, she will not let me help with those scars whatsoever.”


Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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