An 11-year-old Ontario boy says being bitten by a shark while on vacation in Florida was the scariest thing he has ever experienced.

Christian Mariani was swimming in knee-deep water near Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Wednesday morning when he felt something grab his foot.

"I felt it clamp down and then it let go," he said.

"It almost felt like human teeth, and then I ran out screaming.

"The fear of not knowing what bit you and what's going to happen to your foot after that is the scariest feeling that I think I've ever experienced in my life."

The Hamilton resident's screams were heard by a nearby group of lifeguards, who were in the midst of a training exercise and rushed over to help.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battallion Chief Stephen Gollan said the boy likely encountered "a very small shark" and received "a very small bite with puncture wounds to his right foot."

Mariani was not seriously injured. He received 17 stitches.

Speaking at a press conference later in the day, Mariani said he wasn't sure the shark meant to harm him.

"Maybe it thought I was something else, and then it realized and it let go," he said.

Mariani said he isn't deterred by the experience and plans to get back in the water as soon as he can.

"I know that it's a very low chance to get bitten by a shark," he said.

There were 32 reported unprovoked shark attacks in U.S. waters in 2018, down from the previous five-year average of 53.