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Red and purple flags fly in Walton County after shark attacks, authorities urge caution

In the wake of the two shark attacks that left three victims injured in Walton County, Florida, on Friday, June 7, 2024, local authorities have announced that red and purple […]

In the wake of the two shark attacks that left three victims injured in Walton County, Florida, on Friday, June 7, 2024, local authorities have announced that red and purple flags will be flown on Saturday, June 8, as a precautionary measure. The flag status has been changed from double-red to single-red, with the addition of purple flags.

  • The South Walton Fire District (SWFD) stated in a public notice, “SWFD lifeguards are flying red and purple flags on Saturday, June 8. We are utilizing the red and purple flags today out of an abundance of caution due to Friday’s incidents.”

The decision comes after a 45-year-old woman lost her hand and suffered severe injuries to her midsection and pelvic area in the first attack near Founder’s Lane in Watertown Beach.

  • The second incident, which occurred just four miles away near Sandy Shores Court in Seacrest Beach, left two teenage girls with serious injuries, one of whom required tourniquets to control the bleeding.

During a joint press conference on Friday, SWFD Chief Ryan Crawford and Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson emphasized the rarity of having three shark attack victims in a single day. “It is rare, exceedingly rare to have three victims in one day,” Sheriff Atkinson stated, adding that experts from Mote Marine in Sarasota had been contacted to investigate any potential anomalies.

The SWFD’s latest notice underscores the importance of beachgoers remaining vigilant and aware of the risks posed by both surf hazards and marine life.

  • “It is important to us that beach patrons recognize and understand the risk of the open water as it pertains not just to surf hazards, but marine life. We ask you to remain situationally aware at all times,” the notice read.

In a coordinated effort to ensure public safety, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife (MyFWC), and SWFD are working together to patrol the water and shoreline with boats and vehicles throughout Saturday.

Authorities have urged beachgoers to swim carefully, respect the Gulf, stay hydrated, and look out for their loved ones while the beach restrictions remain in place.

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