02/26/2022 - Anonymous Female - California - No Injury

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02/26/2022 - Anonymous Female - California - No Injury

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Great white shark attacks California diver off San Miguel Island

Reported: May 18, 2022 Kevin McMurray

A diver credits her long fins for saving her life when a great white shark attacked off the coast of California.

The diver, who wishes to remain anonymous, was with a group of 14 divers Feb. 26, off San Miguel Island. Most of the group, including Diver 1 were searching for scallops or lobsters, however a few people were also spearfishing.

Around 10:30 a.m. Diver 1 surfaced from a 50- to 70-foot rocky bottom dive and popped her head above the water on the northeast side of the island. The waves had about 3- to 5-foot swells and only 10 to 15 feet of visibility on the surface.

Diver 1 was being bounced around by the waves and could not see the dive boat. She quickly inflated her red diver signal sausage, which helps others see. After getting her bearings, she spotted the dive boat. Since she was wearing her camo Rob Allen Scorpia Evolution Long Blade Freediving Fins, she felt it would be an easy kick to the boat.

After deflating her tube and taking a compass bearing, she started kicking back to the boat. Correctly, she switched to her snorkel and looked down at her compass to keep her bearing, occasionally peeking above water to keep any eye on her target, the boat.

As she neared the boat, she saw people watching her. She looked around to see if there were any fish around, but the poor visibility in the deep water hid any but the closest ocean life.

Puzzled, she looked back toward the boat and saw movement in the water coming from the direction of the boat on her left side. She looked down to see a wall of gray about 5 to 10 feet away and then a band of white.

It was a great white shark

“As soon as I saw the white, I lifted my head to see how far the boat was. As I lifted my head, I saw the large dorsal fin going by which was much larger than my head,” Diver 1 said.

“The boat was too far.”

Realizing she could not reach the boat, she took evasive action.

“I turned to face the shark keeping my head in the water with the snorkel on. She [the shark] swung around and came back at me slowly coming back in the direction of the boat with her grey head coming into view about 3 feet below the surface angled at my 10 or 11 o’clock.“

The estimated 14- to 15-foot shark slowly inched toward Diver 1, who tried to wave her red safety tube at the shark while reaching for her abalone iron.

“I stared directly at her eye not looking elsewhere trying to see what she would do,” she said.

The shark was so close Diver 1 debated on whether to lunge forward and stab her in the eye with her abalone iron but felt too small. Instead, she leaned back and tried to shoo the shark away with the tip of her fins which were now at the shark’s snout.

“Then it happened so fast … all I remember is the wide-open mouth, bright white rows of triangular teeth, and the mouth so wide that I could no longer see her eye.

“A circle of teeth that I now believe stayed open until if felt something in its mouth,” she said.

shark bitten fins
Toothpicks show where the teeth penetrated the fins to sow the distance between teeth.
The shark had taken most of Diver 1’s fin in its mouth.

“The rest was so fast that I don’t even remember seeing the mouth close, just the sensation of the fins popping off and then seeing the head of the shark with fins in its mouth,” she said.

She saw the shark submerged with her fins in its mouth.

Looking above the water, Diver 1 yelled “shark” twice and within a few seconds, was pulled to safety.

Thankfully, the friends on the dive boat spotted the shark approaching Diver 1 and immediately launched a motorized inflatable. As the rescuers approached Diver 1, they saw the shark’s backside breach out of the water as it bit into her fins and foot.

The group headed back to the main dive boat with a relieved Diver 1 and friends.

Diver 1 had a penetrating injury on her right foot between the second and third digits along with damage below the toenails. Another member of the group was an EMT and had trained with the Coast Guard. Concerned about tendon and bone damage, a call to the Coast Guard was placed and a rescue chopper was dispatched.

Her friends helped her prepare for the air transport and she was taken to the hospital. Thankfully, she was downgraded to a level three trauma with no damage to the bone and ended up leaving with only 6 stitches and antibiotics.

great white shark bitten fins
Diver 1 credits her long fins with saving her.

“The left fin must have helped keep the mouth from closing completely, while two of her top teeth penetrated my right foot pocket since the right foot was forward of the left foot.

“The location of the puncture on the foot pocket makes it look like I was already jerking my feet back and the impact of the tooth was enough to give a slight bounce downward for my foot to escape without dragging the tooth on the foot. That way I kept all 10 toes,” she said.

Diver 1 is still processing the encounter in that she believes the shark was curious as to what she was as it stared at her before going for the fins. But the event won’t keep her out of the water for long.

“I haven’t been back diving yet, but the ocean is a beautiful place and not easy to give up,” she said. Adding that when she does get wet, “I will be hugging the kelp close to shore and staying close to my free diving buddies when I do get back in.”

She holds no ill will toward the shark. Stating the shark was actually rather pretty with the big grey nose and very fast after it went for the fins.

Diver 1 will get back in the water one day, but with a little more understanding of what she may encounter in The Pacific Ocean

 “I now am much more aware that great whites will go wherever they want to, so very important to always have a buddy to pull you out and improve the odds of surviving!” she said.

If you or a loved one was involved in a negative sharky encounter please contact us!!!
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How would you deal with being severely injured by an animal that may have wanted to consume you or just parts of you? A shark attack can be a mindboggling event in a person's life. We know we have been there!
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