Florida panhandle beaches closed after two back-to-back shark attacks

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Miles of sugar-white sand beaches and turquoise waters were closed down in Florida after two back-to-back shark attacks.

According to a press conference by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, the successive shark attacks were in “close proximity” to one another on Friday afternoon.

“We experienced two separate incidents earlier this afternoon in relative proximity to one another, about four miles apart and within an hour and a half from one another,” South Walton Fire District Fire Chief Ryan Crawford said.

Law enforcement did not specify what type of sharks were part of the attacks.


Law enforcement remove a shark attack victim from Walton County, Florida beaches on June 7, 2024. 

Law enforcement remove a shark attack victim from Walton County, Florida beaches on June 7, 2024.  (Walton County Sheriff)

Walton County Fire Rescue and South Walton Fire District responded to reports on Friday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. that a 45-year-old woman was attacked by a shark while enjoying the popular tourist destination.

Authorities said that the woman was swimming just beyond a sandbar with her husband when she was suddenly attacked. 

She received “significant trauma to the midsection and pelvic area and amputation of her left lower arm,” Crawford said.

The South Walton Fire District transported the victim by helicopter to a nearby trauma hospital. Authorities said she was in “critical condition.”

Bull shark swimming in water

There were approximately 70 to 80 unprovoked shark bites each year worldwide over the past decade, with only 57 unprovoked bites in 2022. (Getty Images)

At 2:56 p.m., the Walton County Sheriff’s Office announced that they had responded to a second shark accident at Seacrest Creek beach. 

According to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, two female teenagers, who were between 15-years-old and 17-years-old, were attacked by a shark.


Crawford said that, similarly to the first attack, the victims were swimming by a sandbar in waist-deep water before they were attacked.

“Victim one received significant injuries to one lower and one upper extremity,” Crawford said. “Both [bites] required the application of tourniquets.” 

She was airlifted to a trauma center in Pensacola, Florida, authorities said. She remains in “critical condition,” authorities said.

The second teen victim received flash wounds to foot, and was taken by ambulance in stable condition, Crawford said.

Shark is seen during shark dive in Florida

A shark swims through the water during an outing with scuba company Emerald Charters off Jupiter Inlet, Florida, U.S., May 18, 2022.   (REUTERS/Sam Wolfe)

Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson said that the two victims have a “fighting chance” due to the “continuity of care” by first responders.

“One of the important things to realize in these types of situations is the continuity of care,” Adkinson said in the press conference. “This seamless operation between the folks at South Walton Fire District and the deputies at Walton County Sheriffs Office and Walton Air Rescue.”

“I think these two ladies have a fighting chance because of that professionalism,” he added.

Inlet beach

A sand path to the beach at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park. (Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Following the successive shark attacks, Walton County closed several miles of Gulf of Mexico waters.

“Double red flags are now flying on the beaches in the surrounding area,” the Walton County Sheriff’s Office said in a social media post. “The Gulf is now closed to the public in Walton County in the localized area of the incident.”

Adkinson said that they are in contact with area shark experts to discuss if there is an anomaly in the attacks.

“We know that we share the waters with sharks,” he said. “We understand that, as tragic as this is, there are always sharks in these waters, and we have to be careful and cognizant of that.”


With 26 miles of stunning beaches, Walton County is on the Northwest Florida Panhandle along the Gulf of Mexico.

Popular beaches in Walton County include: Seagrove beach, Rosemary beach, Santa Rosa beach, Grayton Beach State Park, Inlet beach, Blue Mountain beach, Miramar beach, and others.

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