Scott Stephens, a 25-year-old surfer who was fortunate to have survived a shark attack Tuesday off Northern California, told reporters that punches to the side of the head were what persuaded the shark to release its grip.
He also said the incident, which led to a lengthy operation to repair several deep lacerations to his left side, will not keep him from surfing again.
Stephens, who is expected to make a full recovery, spoke to local reporters during a press conference at St. Joseph Hospital. The Eureka Times-Standard on Wednesday posted audio and a series of images from the press conference.
The surfer had been riding waves at a deep-water spot he called Bunkers in Humboldt County, near the North Jetty. The attack occurred at about 10 a.m. and Stephens, who opened his eyes underwater and saw the shark, guessed that it was a juvenile great white.
Stephens had already been surfing for about 90 minutes. He was paddling back out after catching a wave when the attack occurred.
“The shark came up from underneath me and pretty much grabbed onto my side and pulled me under the water,” he said. “I opened my eyes under the water and punched the shark in the side of the head a couple of times until it released me.”
The surfer added: “I came back up to the surface and my board was a little ways away. … I was able to get back on my board. Luckily the shark had taken off. … I saw a lot of blood and a pretty good wound in my side. But I was able to paddle back in.”
On the beach he was assisted by fellow surfers, who tried to slow the bleeding and keep Stephens calm. Fortunately, another surfer, Jason Gabriel, happened by in a pickup truck, and transported Stephens from the remote spot to Highway 101, where they met an ambulance that had been en route to the scene.
“I was probably doing 110 mph; I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Gabriel was quoted as saying.
Said Stephens: I can’t say how appreciative I am for those people and what they did for me.”
The wounds, while severe, did not reach any vital organs. Stephens was in good spirits the next day, during the press conference, when he said he has no ill feeling toward sharks.
“They’re out there and you’re entering their home every time you go surfing,” he said. “It’s part of surfing. … it’s in no way going to keep me from surfing again.”
–Images are via the Eureka Times-StandardMore on GrindTv.com
- VIDEO: Dog impersonates grizzly bear and catches migrating salmon
- ANIMALS: Stunning photos feature critters with mismatched eye colors
- VIDEO: Talking elephant mimics Korean words