JENSEN BEACH — Surfer Frank A. Wacha Jr., knew he had a problem Thursday afternoon when he saw a bull shark hanging off his left arm.
"It felt just like I had been hit," said Wacha, 61. "It was very fast. It didn't last long."
It was the first time Wacha, who has 50 years experience riding the waves, had been bitten by a shark.
He recounted his experience Friday afternoon while recovering at his restaurant, Kona Beach Cafe.
The avid surfer was 120 to 150 yards offshore Jensen Public Beach on his surfboard when he felt something leap out of the water and attach itself to his arm.
"My arm was out of the water," he said. "I looked over and saw this shark. We were eye to eye.
"The first thing I thought was, 'I need to get a wave and get to shore,'" Wacha said. "Then I thought, 'I hope I don't lose function in this arm.' I knew I wasn't going to lose the arm because it was still attached."
Soon after sinking its teeth into Wacha's flesh, the shark fell off, but not before leaving bite marks from Wacha's forearm to upper arm.
Wacha was able to stay on his 9-foot-long surf board and said hedidn't see any others sharks in the choppy, murky water.
Back at the beach, he beckoned to lifeguards who were able to stop the bleeding and he called his wife, Janice, to take him to the hospital.
Doctors said Wacha is expected to recover from his injuries. He was treated and released from the hospital with a bandaged left arm the same day as the attack.
"Just some tissue damage," he said. "There was no ligament damage or damage to any arteries or nerves."
The day after surviving a shark attack, Wacha was greeting restaurant customers, fielding calls from the media and downing glasses of unsweetened iced tea.
Wacha said he has no intention of letting his shark encounter permanently keep him out of the water.
"As soon as it heals I'll be out there with my buddies."SINGLE FIN SHOWDOWN CONTEST
The surfing community is not letting Thursday's incident stop competitors from getting in the water.
The all-day fourth annual Single Fin Showdown surfing contest sponsored by the United Way of Martin County will take place Saturday at the sound end of Stuart Beach, 889 N.E. Ocean Blvd., spokesman Justin Beard said.
"It's just one of those unfortunate things to happen," Beard, an avid surfer, said of Thursday's incident.
The contest uses vintage 1970s surfboards. Money raised will benefit the United Way.http://www.tcpalm.com/