Bryce Albert, sophomore in public relations, grew up in Naples, Florida, and said he used to go to the beach everyday until he went to college. He used to live five minutes from the ocean, and he loves to surf.
So, when Albert and some of his friends left Auburn on Wednesday, March 17, they were expecting to have a relaxing long weekend in Palm Springs. A bit burnt out by the lack of a spring break, they drove the eight-and-a-half to nine hours in one night and went to Juno Pier Beach the next day.
However, their plans changed drastically that day when Albert was attacked by a 6-foot-long blacktip shark.
“The way I keep describing it is basically like a metal cleat kicking you, and then it stays there like a charley horse,” Albert said. “I originally thought that one of my friends was messing with me under the water [...] because obviously I would never think that I was being bitten by a shark.”
Albert said he then pulled his arm out of the water and quickly realized what had happened.
“When I did bring my arm out of the water, it was just candy red, covered in blood, and I can see like my fat and my muscles — sorry to be all gory for you — falling out of my skin.”
Albert is a self-described calm person which explains why he didn’t immediately start screaming or — you know — pass out. Instead, he got out of the water as quickly as possible while trying to hide his arm from the rest of the people on the beach.
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“I kind of hid my arm as much as I can from the public because obviously I didn’t want to cause chaos on the beach,” he said. “It’s a scary situation for everyone around too, including me, so I was really worried about everyone else around me more.”
Some of Albert’s friends helped him to a lifeguard station where they were able to wrap his arm in gauze — a decision which his doctors later said likely saved his arm.
“If I didn’t get it wrapped up then, I would have had so much blood loss and everything that I would have probably had a dead hand and probably have to get it amputated,” Albert said.
They then drove to a hospital that was 25 minutes away, and this ended up being another good decision since an ambulance would have taken him to a different hospital and he would’ve had to have been transferred anyway.
At the hospital, Albert received a morphine drip, and nurses began trying to stop the bleeding to preserve as much of his arm as they could. Two hours later, he was rushed into emergency surgery.
According to Albert, the doctors told him that he was incredibly lucky that the shark hadn’t made contact with a major artery in his arm.
Currently, he is expected to make a full recovery and regain full use of his left arm.
On a day defined by really bad luck — only about 50 Americans are bitten by sharks every year — Albert got pretty lucky a number of times.
He was in the hospital for six days after the attack, and he said this was something he thought about.
“It’s unlucky,” he said. “The chances of this happening are extremely low; it’s unlucky. But also, I’m extremely fortunate that it wasn’t worse. I’ve definitely been focusing on all of the good and all of the positives because this could have been so much worse.”
Albert is now back at home in Naples, and he has had a number of surgeries since the initial one. Doctors have closed up the wounds on his arm, and he hopes to be back in Auburn soon. In the meantime, Albert said he has worked with his professors to rearrange assignments through Auburn Cares and is trying to do what he can from home.
For someone who grew up on the beach, this attack has been difficult for Albert to process. He said he knows it won’t keep him out of the water, but that it might make things harder for a while.
“The first thing I want to do is — crazy as it sounds — when I’m healthy enough, I want to go back to Juno Pier to the same spot I got bit, and I want to go swim,” he said. “I want to go overcome that because I feel like once I accomplish that then all these fears and everything with this injury will go away, or I hope so.”
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