Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Fishing [Print without images]

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Surfer attacked by shark on N. California coast

By Tanya Schevitz
San Francisco Chronicle — Dec. 12, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO — A surfer was attacked and dragged about 15 feet underwater by what is believed to be a great white shark over the weekend, according to Marin County, Calif., authorities.

Royce Frailey, 43, survived with just minor bite marks.

He was resting face down on his board waiting for a wave a couple hundred feet off Dillon Beach Sunday when he felt a surge of water beneath him, said Marin County Fire Capt. Rick Wonneberger.

Then a shark, 12 to 15 feet long, clamped onto his surfboard, its teeth shooting through the board.

"It lifted him up, and then he felt a sting in his right hip and upper thigh, and the shark took him and dove down with him about 15 feet," Wonneberger said.

"He was holding the board with all of his might. As he went down, the resistance was too much, and he popped up and rocketed out of the water."

Frailey and a friend surfing nearby swam quickly to shore.

Wonneberger said Frailey's injuries were not enough to warrant an ambulance, and a friend drove him to the hospital, where he was treated and released.

"There is no doubt in my mind that his injuries are so minimal because of the surfboard," Wonneberger said. "The board took the brunt of the bite."

He said Frailey was only maybe 100 feet or 200 feet from shore and was not out near the tip of Tomales Point, a spot known for shark activity that Wonneberger called the "shark pit."

The last attack in northern California was in October 2005, when a 20-year-old surfing instructor survived after wrestling free from a 14-foot great white shark.

John McCosker, a senior scientist at the California Academy of Sciences and a great white shark expert, said the waters just off Dillon Beach are not necessarily more dangerous than most other coastal areas in northern California.

"The person (who) surfs there tomorrow is dumb. The person who surfed there today is unlucky," he said.

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.