TREASURE ISLAND - Debbie Shoemaker was wading in waist-deep water in the Gulf of Mexico when she felt something like "a big hard punch in my face."
A pelican had just flown into her, its beak piercing her cheek. Shoemaker was taken to the emergency room, where a plastic surgeon gave her 26 stitches inside and outside her mouth.
"A terrifying experience, especially being by myself," said Shoemaker, 50, who was visiting from Toledo, Ohio. "Nobody would have ever thought that it could happen, but it could and it did."
Floridians know to watch for stingrays and to be wary of sharks, alligators and snakes. But pelicans are usually considered harmless.
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