A surfer off the coast of Humboldt County miraculously survived a pretty serious shark bite on Sunday, and his tale provides at least one best practice for getting out of the grip of an attacking shark.
31-year-old surfer Jared Trainor was out on the waves off Centerville Beach on Sunday, a surf spot on California's Lost Coast about ten miles due west of Fortuna, in Humboldt County. Trainor, a resident of Fortuna, is an experienced surfer but he headed to a spot he'd never been to that he'd heard about from a coworker.
As he drove there, he tells the Times-Standard, it occurred to him that this was "Sharktober" — the period in October on the West Coast when shark encounters are most likely, because adult white sharks are returning in their migration from the central Pacific. And, in retrospect, he says "It did seem like there might be a little more seals than normal."
Trainor describes the encounter with the shark in just a few flashes.
"I don't remember the initial contact," he told the newspaper. "It kind of happened so quickly."
He remembers being about four feet below the surface, but he was able to hang on to his board in part because the shark's teeth latched on to it.
"Its lower jaws had the board and its upper jaws had my leg," Trainor says.
Still not sure whether this was a seal or a shark that latched on to him, Trainer says he managed to grab the shark's head in his hands and he kicked it with his foot until it let go and swam off.
Another surfer was luckily at the beach and able to help after asking, "Did that thing get you?" And Trainor says he's grateful the other surfer had a cellphone and signal in this remote spot.
Trainor was able to walk back to his own truck before realizing the extent of his wounds — he called an ambulance and nearly went into cardiac arrest in his trip to the hospital before the wounds could be stapled shut.
The bite marks show about a 19-inch span, indicating this was a pretty large shark, and likely a great white.
If you want to see the gruesome and gory reality of a shark bite, you can flip to the second photo in the Instagram post below from a local surf shop. You've been warned.
The third photo in the post above shows the sizable bite mark on Trainor's surfboard, for reference.
Trainor suffered some nerve damage, and he says he's disappointed he won't be recovered enough to surf later this month on a planned trip to Hawaii. His main worry is that he could have some post-traumatic stress when he tries to get back to the sport he loves.
Also, he tells the Times-Standard, "I haven't actually told my [five-year-old] son directly that this happened. Because I hope that he's not going to lose interest in the sport."
Trainor's sister launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover his medical expenses, which so far has raised $11,000 of a $50,000 goal.
The Ferndale Fire Department posted to Facebook about responding to the shark-bite incident, writing, "To our recollection of our membership, we have not had an incident like this. This is a reminder that there are many hazards to be aware of when you are at the beach."
According to the Sacramento Bee in 2017, Humboldt County had recorded only 16 shark attacks in the last 60 years. But in September 2020, a kayaker narrowly escaped a shark attack in Shelter Cove, as the Chronicle reported.