NAPLES, Fla. —
It’s a phone call most parents probably don’t plan to receive.
“I call her and said ‘Don’t freak out, Mom. I got bit by a shark’,” Bryce Albert tells FOX 4.
Dr. Lawrence Albert and his wife, Tracey, say their son has quite the sense of humor.
That’s why it was hard to believe him at first.
Albert says he knew something was up with his son.
“I thought he got a ticket. A speeding ticket,” Dr. Albert laughs.
But, he says he didn't expect to hear that his son was actually bitten by a shark.
Growing up in Naples, Bryce Albert has been swimming most of his life.
Last Thursday, a spring break trip to Juno Beach reminds us all that no one is immune to just what could lurk beneath the ocean’s surface.
During a windy day in the water, experts believe a black tip shark sunk its teeth into the Auburn University sophomore's arm.
He tells FOX 4 he originally thought a friend of his had kicked him under the water.
Bryce describes the pain as "being kicked by a cleat" and "a really bad Charlie horse".
He says it wasn't until he pulled his arm out of the water that he realized his tendons were visible.
The 20-year-old tells FOX 4 that a friend applied first aid - tying a tourniquet onto Bryce's arm.
Bryce says that move could have ultimately led to saving his arm.
A nearby lifeguard applied further aide, and Bryce says his friends drove him to a hospital 25 minutes away.
As a medical professional, Dr. Albert says realizing his son wasn’t joking led to a flood of questions.
“How much damage did he have to his arm? Did he have nerve damage? Tendon damage?,” Dr. Albert recalls asking.
The shark bite is clearly intense.
But, Dr. Albert says Bryce’s lucky.
“It’s unbelievable that the shark didn’t bite right through that artery cause he could’ve bled out from it.”
After five nights, six days and a couple surgeries, Bryce’s stitched up and back at his parents’ home.
“This happened for a reason,” Bryce tells FOX 4.
He plans to use it for a greater good.
The Auburn University student says he’s going to continue sharing his story in an effort to inspire other people.
“To really influence other people to really cherish what life happens to bring to you,” Bryce Albert says.
Tracey Albert, Bryce’s mom, says her son’s attitude of resilience doesn’t surprise her.
“Even if he had lost his arm, he’d still be okay, he’d still (have) the same attitude that he has now, and we would, too,” she says.
The family’s goal now is to get Bryce back out on the waves.
“We want to get him back in the water, as soon as possible. That’s really important,” Tracey Albert says.
Bryce says he plans to go right back to where it all happened.
“I feel like once I do that, it’ll clear all of my fears and my head space.”
Bryce tells FOX 4 he's expected to regain full range of motion and mobility in his arm.