< Surfer bitten by great white shark in California • Tracking Sharks

Surfer bitten by great white shark in California

Nick Wapner was hitting the waves at Montaña de Oro State Park Jan. 8 before catching one last wave and a shark bite.

2019.01.09_Wapner, Nick Montaña de Oro State Park_California_Surfer bitten by great white shark in California

The Cal Poly sophomore had been in the water off Sandspit Beach for about an hour with other surfers from his school, when he went to catch one final wave.

After his friends headed in around 10 a.m., Wapner paddled into position for an incoming set of waves when a great white grabbed him and his surfboard from below.

“It all happened quickly, but I turned and saw that it had one of my legs in its mouth,” Wapner told the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

As the shark bit down, the lower part of Wapner’s legs and the tail of the surfboard were in its mouth.

While the shark thrashed, Wapner kicked hard to release its grip, and watched in shock as the shark disappeared into the water.

“The thing was huge,” he said describing what he believed to be a 15-foot long shark with and 18-inch dorsal fin.

The 19-year-old yelled to his friends that he had just been attacked by a shark and began paddling the 100 yards back to shore.

He needed 50 stitches to sew up injures to his legs, but the event won’t keep him out of the water.

“It’s such a low-probability event, that it never really seemed like it could be a reality,” Wapner said.

“I’m happy to be alive,” he said, looking back on the incident; he was tired but thankful it wasn’t worse. “I’m still in shock. I got off really lucky.

“I know I’ll continue to surf,” Wapner said. “But I’ll just take it one day at a time.”

There has been a total of 1 shark attack bite (1 with injury, not considered provoked*) publicly reported and verified in 2019. Zero fatal**; 1 was reported in the U.S (including zero fatal), with 0 occurring in Florida and 0 in Hawaii. Zero have been reported in Australia, zero fatal. Zero unconfirmed bites, worldwide, not included in the total count.

All locations have been marked on the 2019 Shark Attack Tracking Map.

*Provoked defined as spearfishing, feeding sharks, fishing, etc. (listed with green marker).
**Three possible scavenge

Australia Breakdown:
Western Australia: 0 (0 no injury), Fatal: 0, Unconfirmed: 0.
Northern Territory: 0 (0 provoked), Fatal: 0, Unconfirmed 0.
Queensland: 0 (0 provoked), Fatal: 0
New South Wales: 0 (0 no injury), Fatal: 0, Unconfirmed 0.
South Australia: 0, Fatal: 0, Unconfirmed 0.
Victoria: 0 (0 no injury), Fatal: 0, Unconfirmed 0.

Updated Jan. 10, 2018 with video interview.


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