A kayaker was understandably rattled when he came face-to-face with a great white shark in a heart-pumping encounter that forced the closure of city beaches Thursday afternoon in Santa Barbara, California.
Bret Z. Jackson, 40, had been paddling for about 45 minutes when the incident occurred about a mile east of Stearns Wharf.
"When I first saw the shark, it was about a foot from my face, grabbing on to the kayak," Jackson explained to KSBY.
"Its nose was about a foot from my nose, biting on to the side [of the kayak] here and it drove me back, flipped me over…I came out from the water as quick as I could. I was laying on the back [of the kayak] like this trying to hold my legs and arms in."
Jackson told the Los Angeles Times all he could think about was "How do I stay out of the water?"
He pulled out a 5-inch knife but realized it was probably worthless. A couple minutes later he flagged down a sailboat, whose owner used a dinghy to motor over to Jackson and get him out of the water. Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol eventually picked up Jackson and his kayak.
Shark expert Chris Lowe of the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach told the Times the shark was probably fully grown based on the 16-inch-wide diameter of the bite marks and that it was probably an "investigatory" bite.
"That behavior is the most common behavior in these interactions," Lowe told the Times. "[The shark] grabs the board or kayak, shakes it once or twice [then leaves]. That's how they decide whether it's something worth eating."
Jackson was told the great white shark was 11- to 13-feet long based on the measurements of the bite marks.
"My heart's racing," Jackson said upon reaching shore, according to KSBY. "Not a scratch [on him]. It's crazy."
The city beaches were to be closed for 48 hours.
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