Sunday, November 06, 2005

Shark attack with great ending

Warning signs were posted at the beaches along Pillar Point on the San Mateo County coast Thursday following a narrow escape by a surfer from what may have been a great white shark at the famed Mavericks big wave offshore surf area.

Veteran surfer Tim West, 25, and a friend were paddling about an eighth a mile off shore about 5 p.m. Wednesday when a shark came up underneath his board and went on the attack.
"This is where it hit, majorly with the tooth still in it," West said while pointing to his damaged board. "It hit pretty hard. Then there are pressure dings in the top from the top jaw."

"I'm lucky that wasn't my body. That's the injury to my board as for my body -- I'm fine."

West said the attack happened so fast. He has been surfing in local waters for about 12 years and this is the first time he has ever even seen a shark.

Assistant San Mateo County Harbor Master Matt MacDonell said the details of the attack make him believe West had a run-in with a great white shark.

"So what happened to him is the shark came up, bite the board, knocked him off the board," he said. "It took the board as if it was its dinner…It trashed with the board and then because it didn’t taste any blood -- it spit the board out."

MacDonell said it was the first shark attack in three years at Mavericks. Deputies were out overnight posting warning signs on the beach.

West said he would have the shark's tooth taken out of his board by a biologist and find out just how large it was.

It was the second shark attack in a popular Northern California surfing area in the last month.
Megan Halavais, 20, was attacked Oct. 19 by what authorities describe as a 16-foot shark while paddling her surfboard with friends at Salmon Creek Beach, about a mile north of Bodega Bay in Sonoma County.

Doctors said one of the shark's teeth almost severed Halavais' femoral artery, a potentially fatal wound. She is expected to make a full recovery.

A 6-mile stretch of beach near the attack was reopened after a five-day shutdown. Authorities said the closure is standard for shark attacks because certain sharks tend to feed in one area for about five days.


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