A Santa Rosa surfer had a run-in with a great white shark in California.
Katie Wilson and her husband Jordan French were hitting the waves off North Salmon Creek Beach May 7.
French had just caught a wave as Wilson continued looking for her first wave of the day about 100 yards offshore.
Wilson, 36, felt her board stall as she paddled and at first believed a dolphin had gotten tangled in her surfboards leash. She realized it was something much bigger as her board started moving back and forth and the water frothed around her.
She turned to look toward her leash and saw a great white raise its head.
“It was right behind me — like I could have reached my foot out and probably kicked it with my foot — but I was trying to stay as far away as I could,” Wilson told The Press Democrat. “I felt like it was going to drag me under, and I really didn’t want to be underwater with it.”
As the shark shook the board, the Santa Rosa massage therapist gripped the board tightly and bent her legs to keep them out of the water.
While she said the incident “felt like forever” it probably only lasted a few moments as the shark severed the surfboard leash and disappeared.
She looked toward another surfer who was around 20 yards away and yelled, “It’s a f—ing great white shark!”
The long-boarder paddled over to Wilson and the two headed back to shore.
No waves we setting at the time, so the two had to paddle back, making it a much more dangerous situation.
“I was freaking out and hyperventilating and super, super scared,” she said. “He just paddled next to me and told me to breathe, and everything’s fine. And, even at that time, I was in shock. I didn’t know if I’d been bitten — I had no idea. There was so much adrenaline.”
The two ran into French, who was wearing earplugs, and was oblivious about what occurred. When he realized what happened, French pushed his wife to shore.
Once she had returned safely to the beach, Wilson found the long-boarder who helped, who identified himself as Bailey, and gave him a hug.
The California State Parks posted signs warning of an aggressive shark and that those entering the water would be doing so at their own risk.
The incident left Wilson shaken, but knew she needed to get back in the water as soon as possible.
The next day, she and several supports, including Megan Halavais, who was bitten by a 16-foot shark in 2005, went back to North Salmon Creek Beach.
“I only caught one wave,” Wilson said, “but I just needed to get back. It was a pretty scary experience, and you know the old adage about getting back on the horse.”
This was the second shark incident reported in California this year.
Nick Wapner was bitten on the legs by a shark off Montaña de Oro State Park Jan. 8.
Wapner, 19, believes the shark was about 15-feet-long, and he needed 50 stitches to sew up his leg wound.
As of May 10, 2019, there have been a total of 28 shark bites (25 with injury, 8 of which are considered provoked*) publicly reported and verified in 2019.
All locations have been marked on the 2019 Shark Attack map.
Two fatal**; 15 were reported in the U.S (including zero fatal), with 7 occurring in Florida (3 provoked) 6 in Hawaii (1 provoked) and 2 in California (1 no injury). Six have been reported in Australia, zero fatal. Four unconfirmed bites, worldwide, not included in the total count.
*Provoked defined as spearfishing, feeding sharks, fishing, etc. (listed with green marker).