On October 24, 2009 Scott Barton and his companion, Emily Sondergaard, were surfing San Onofre State Beach at Trail 5. It was 5:30 PM and they had been on the water 45 minutes. They were about 20 yards from shore in water 4 feet deep with an estimated temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and visibility of 3 – 4 feet. The ocean was calm with a clear sky and an estimated air temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. No marine mammals were observed in the area.
Barton reported; “My girlfriend and I were surfing at Trail 5 Saturday evening. It was a beautiful afternoon, with almost no wind, warm air and water, and 2 – 4 foot waves coming in. Several fish were felt and seen in the water around my feet and legs prior to the incident. They appeared to be grunion. I had just caught a wave and rode it in, and was turning my board around to paddle back out.
As I was about to get back on my board to begin paddling, I felt something brush against the calf of my leg. I was wearing a spring suit, so I could distinctly feel that it was some type of animal, and not just a piece of kelp or seaweed. It startled me, so I kind of jumped up a bit to try to get back on my board, but before I could, I felt several sharp teeth puncture my big toe and underside of my left foot. It caused a sharp pain, and I knew instantly that I was bleeding.
My first reaction was to try to get it off so I shook my leg hard, and it let go. I called to my girlfriend that I had just been bitten, and that we should get out of the water. So we both exited the water and walked up the beach. It was there that I discovered three puncture wounds on my big toe and one on the arch of my foot. This was clearly not a stingray wound or anything else I could think of. Then we cleaned and dried the cuts on the beach and went home.”
The three punctures to the top of the left foot/big toe demonstrate an ‘interspace measurement' of 1 centimeter, or 0.4 inches, between each cut. The slice to the arch of the left foot is approximately one-half inch in length. The configuration and spacing of the individual tooth punctures is consistent with upper and lower jaw teeth of a small shark. Please report any shark sighting, encounter or attack to the Shark Research Committee.
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