A diver searching for prehistoric shark teeth Florida’s Myakka River is recovering after an alligator bit him on the back of his head.
Effrey Heim suffered a skull fracture from the assault, which occurred last Sunday in Sarasota County. He needed 34 staples to close the wound. In addition, he suffered puncture wounds on his hand from an alligator bite.
The 25-year-old Tampa man thought he had been struck by a boat propeller till he saw the alligator looking at him.
“It felt quite heavy and it really felt as though it was moving very fast,” he told CNN. “It felt dull. It felt just like a blunt force. I didn’t feel the clipping, I felt a pulling on ”
Heim says he had dived in the river several times before and had entered the water in a public place near a restaurant.
Heim spent approximately 10 minutes searching for gators in the water while he put on his wetsuit, but didn’t see anything until he got in the water.
He had been free diving, without scuba tanks, so he took several deep breaths and pitched down in hopes of finding megalodon teeth at the gravel at the bottom of the river.
Heim was submerged for about 45 seconds when the alligator struck.
After the first bites, Heim says he managed to back away and climb back onto the river bank because the alligator lunged at him.
He says an ex-firefighter in the restaurant got a first aid kit and bandaged his head while some called 911.
“I was lucky that I was at a public place and that there were individuals who I was able to call over,” he said.
Heim says he felt really exhausted and just wanted to go to sleep following the bite. But he feared that he was going to die.
Heim says he joked and made light of what happened when he first got to the hospital. But he had”a very spiritual and psychological moment” because he was going to receive a CT scan, when he realized how lucky he was to survive. “I cried so hard that day for about an hour or two.
He also spent a day-and-a-half in the hospital and states that his swelling has gone down a lot. He is still taking antibiotics to fight infection.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) says alligators become more active as their courtship actions start in April, and as temperatures warm up.
“I was probably too comfortable diving through mating season,” Heim said. “I ought to have known better.”
Despite the severity of his injuries, Heim says he expects the alligator is not killed. He blamed the attack on mistaken identity.
FWC officers and a contracted nuisance alligator trapper were sent to look into the incident, a spokesman for the agency told in an email.
One alligator, a 6-foot-4-inch female, has been taken out of the area and that the trapper is working to remove another alligator in the area, ” the spokesman said.
Captured nuisance alligators been the property of the trapper and are usually processed for their meat and hide, but are sometimes sold to animal exhibits or zoos.