Authorities say the 8-year-old Ocean Springs boy, his uncle, and cousins were swimming at Langdon Beach Friday night when a 7-foot bull shark attacked. The boy's uncle rescued him and then wrestled the shark to the shore.
"We could see that the arm was in the shark's mouth," said Tony Thomas, a Pensacola Beach firefighter. "And so everybody backed up and the park ranger pulled out his pistol and shot the shark 3 times. Then he once again stuck his baton in and I reached in and pulled the arm out of the shark's mouth."
There were 79 attacks reported world-wide last year. Thirty-four of those happened in Florida.
Experts say this is the worst time of year for attacks because fish are migrating and sharks are feeding.
But, people played at coast beaches Saturday like they always do. A marine biologist says a shark attack here is highly unlikely.
"One of the reasons we don't have a whole lot of sharks in the Mississippi Sound is because the water is murky and the salinity is low," marine biologist Moby Solangi said.
Solangi says bull sharks do live south of the barrier islands as do three other types of sharks. The nurse shark and sawfish can be seen swimming peacefully at aquariums, like at Marine Life, with other fish and human divers.
"Generally, sharks attack when they think it's a school of fish," Solangi said. "People are playing and it's their feeding time. But generally, they shy away from you and if a shark comes near you and you stay still, they won't bother you."
He says the story of the attack at Langdon Beach and the heroic actions by the victim's uncle is incredible.
"By staying calm, wrestling it, bringing it to the beach, taking the arm out of the shark and taking it to the hospital, I think we should have a movie about this," Solangi said.
Authorities have not released the boy's name. Doctors say he also had leg wounds.
The beach where the attack happened was open Saturday.