Estero man recovers from shark bite, recalls alligator attack

Published: August 3, 2020 7:20 PM EDT
Updated: August 4, 2020 8:42 PM EDT

An encounter with a predator is rare, but a man in Southwest Florida now has two experience with formidable creatures in the water. He told us his close encounters are not scaring him onto the shore.

Justin Stuller in Estero has been bitten twice while out on the water. He survived a recent shark attack and also walked away from a previous alligator attack. We spoke to him Monday about his experiences.

“I immediately come to the surface and say, ‘Everybody out of the water,’ and shoot towards the boat,” Stuller said.

Life’s all about the water for Stuller.

“I’m normally the first one in the water, last one out of the water,” Stuller said.

But what’s in the water might not be all about him.

“You know it felt like asphalt had just scraped across my leg, and I was like that is crazy,” Stuller said.

Wednesday, Stuller was down in the Keys with his family for mini lobster season. While he caught plenty of seafood, something else caught him.

“Once I got back to the boat, I’m like wow, ‘It really bit me.’ Like I said, ‘It bit me,’” Stuller said.

It was an eight-foot lemon shark, and the big fish sunk its teeth into Stuller pretty good.

“Whenever you see the inside of your body, it’s a scary thing at first,” Stuller said.

Now, he’s sporting nearly two dozen stiches, but Stuller’s story doesn’t end with the shark. This is the second time a water creature took a bite out of him.

“I was with two other guys. We had gotten a couple of ropes on the alligator, one from a bow and arrow, one from a harpoon. Like how a normal situation goes,” Stuller joked.

This gator didn’t go down easy.

“As he rolled he kind of clamped on my leg, you know?” Stuller said. “One good clamp and then one real good clamp.”

Stuller has the scars to prove it.

“I mean, a lot worse things that could happen in those cases in my opinion,” Stuller laughed. “It was as good of a bad experience as you could have, I would say.”

Neither a shark nor an alligator seem to be able to keep Stuller on dry land. He told us his recovery is going well after his recent encounter in the Keys. The shark cut through his flesh but not his bones.