Fish tale: Edgewater paddleboarder reports possible shark bite. Or was it a catfish?

It sounds like the opening to a summer blockbuster.

Chris Bowen was returning home from his evening paddleboarding excursion near Edgewater on Wednesday around sunset, walking in about 3 feet of water in the Rhode River when he felt something hit his leg.

“I just saw a tail splash,” he said, and a blackish, grayish figure swim away. Maybe a catfish, he thought.

When he emerged from the water, he saw the wound. Dozens and dozens of teeth marks on his left leg — puncture holes that welled with blood before he could even count them all.

He’d been bitten — but by what?

Bowen took pictures of his bleeding leg and sent them to the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

“We advised the gentleman that it could be a catfish or a shark,” said Candy Thomson, police spokeswoman, adding that because officers saw only photos and did not see Bowen in person, they were unwilling to guess. But a Maryland Fisheries Services biologist would be looking at the photo Thursday, she said.

A spokesman for the department said Thursday that biologists could not conclusively say what had caused the injury.

Thomson added that the pectoral and dorsal fins of a catfish can cause painful injuries and lead to infection.

But to Bowen, the answer was clear.

“Catfish don’t have teeth like this,” Bowen said.

Bowen didn’t go to the hospital. He just cleaned the wound with peroxide. Sure, it burned. But he was mostly amused by the whole thing. “I know there’s a lot of strange animals coming in the bay now,” Bowen said.

There have only been three shark attacks in Maryland waters, according to sharkattackdata.com. The most recent was in 1944, an unprovoked attack in North Beach. Bowen would make the fourth.

No matter. He’ll be back in the water Thursday.

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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