On Sept. 15, at 1:15 p.m., the Isle of Palms Fire Department received a call that an individual had been bitten by something while swimming in the ocean. Upon arrival, near 9th Avenue on Front Beach, personnel found a 22-year-old female with a bite mark on her foot.
"Our personnel felt what they saw appeared to be consistent with a shark bite," said fire chief Ann Graham.
The woman has been identified as Erica Hedrick, who was visiting for the weekend from Indianapolis, Indiana, according to the Post and Courier.
"They're generally bites. A lot of people call them attacks," Graham said. "It's a natural habitat for many different types of marine life. Clearly it was not an attack."
Hedrick was treated by emergency medical services and transported to a nearby Mount Pleasant hospital, according to Graham.
At the hospital, Hedrick's foot required 29 stitches. X-rays showed a partial tooth was embedded in her foot, according to Post and Courier.
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) Maritime Resources Division stated Hedrick's bite is typical in South Carolina, which usually occurs below the knee and is not life-threatening. The two sharks that anglers most commonly encounter – the bonnethead and sharpnose sharks – rarely exceed 4 feet in length. according to SCDNR biologist Erin Weeks.
"As far as the species and sizes, during summer months we have around 15 species," said SCDNR biologist Bryan Frazier. "Only four of those grow to less than 5 feet, so the majority grow larger than five feet."
For the past 15 years, South Carolina has reported approximately four shark-related incidents each year, according to SCDNR. Weeks and Frazier confirmed they had no further information on the incident and deferred further comments to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File.
Manager of Florida Museum's Program for Shark Research, Tyler Bowling noted they're due to hear back soon on the status of the tooth in Hedrick's foot.
"Last I heard they were debating whether or not to remove the tooth from her foot," Bowling said. "We are trying to get in contact with (Hedrick) to see if we can get the (tooth) and then DNA sequence it to figure out exactly what kind species or even if it was a shark."
Bowling noted it's still pretty early in the investigation and didn't give an estimate as to how long the discovery process will take.
South Carolina has had a total of 101 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks since 1837, 35 of those have been on Charleston County beaches. However, the odds of being attacked by a shark are astronomically rare − one in 11.5 million, according to the Florida Museum.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.