A man who was bitten by a great white shark while surfing with friends off Central California on Sunday is expected to survive, officials said.
The unidentified man in his 50s was in waters off Sand Spit Beach in Montana De Oro State Park about 11:30 a.m. when the shark, described as an 8- to 10-foot-long juvenile, rose from the depths and bit him on the right hip, said Supervising State Park Ranger Robert Colligan.
The man had “zero warning” before the shark attacked, his friend Andrew Walsh told the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
Though extremely rare, unprovoked shark attacks worldwide have grown steadily since 1900, and there were 39 reported shark attacks in California from 2001 to 2013.
“It was pretty radical,” Walsh said. “You could see from his board he got hit pretty hard.”
The man, a resident of Morro Bay, was treated by medics at the scene and then airlifted by helicopter to a local hospital.
Walsh told the Tribune that the man was his longtime surfing buddy. After the man swam to shore, he created a tourniquet with the cord attached to his surfboard.
Two doctors who happened to be walking by rushed to his aid while others called for help, according to the Tribune.
“It was a severe wound,” Walsh said, “but it hadn’t gotten any arteries.”
Information on the shark attack victim’s condition was not immediately available, but his injuries were said not to be life threatening. About 12 other surfers were in the water, but no other injuries were reported.
“Witnesses said the shark came up from below,” Colligan said. “It looked from the evidence that the board took the majority of damage but in the process the shark took a little bit from the right hip.”
The man managed to stay composed throughout the ordeal.
“He was fairly calm throughout, other than he didn’t want to look down at his leg,” Colligan said.
The bite marks on the board -- their size and description -- seemed to indicate that the shark was indeed a young great white, which are not uncommon farther north in colder waters.
Attacks on humans, though, are rare, the last occurring in 2003 near Avila Beach, about 10 miles south of the latest incident, Colligan said.
Sand Spit Beach will remain open but will have signs posted about the latest attack.
“Mainly to let the public know that they enter the waters at their own risk,” Colligan said. “They will remain up for the next few days and pending no other sightings, the posts will come down.”