An incident that typically occurs more often in movies has stirred Manhattan Beach Pier in California this weekend as a swimmer was attacked and bitten by a great white shark.
Forty-year-old long distance swimmer Steven Robles was with a group of 15 other swimmers training in preparation for an International Swim Meet, when the incident happened at around 9:30 in the morning on Saturday.
Eyewitnesses said that prior to the incident, the 7-foot shark was hooked by a fisherman who regularly tries to catch shark when it bit an anchovies-and-sardines bait that was thrown from the edge of the pier. Trapped for 45 minutes and agitated, the shark bit the swimmer when he swam to the fishing line.
Capt. Tracy Lizotte, a Los Angeles County lifeguard, said that sharks tend to avoid people and the biting happened as it was trying to get off the line. "He was agitated and was probably biting everything in his way and then the swimmer swam right into the shark's line," Lizotte said adding that what happened is likely an accident.
Another witness, Eric Martin, the director of the Roundhouse Aquarium at the Manhattan Beach, said that the shark appeared to be trying to shake the hook and the swimmer was just unfortunate enough to have swum in the area at the wrong time.
The bitten swimmer was brought ashore on a surfer's board with the help of the lifeguards while the shark swam into the murky water after it was let lose. Although the beach remains open, the police has prohibited fishing from the Pier until Tuesday and a mile long stretch was set to be off limits to swimmers for the meantime as a precautionary measure.
Robles, who was fortunate to have only sustained a bite would on the side of his rib cage, said that he punched the shark in the nose, which is often a recommended course of action during such an attack. He was taken to the Harbor UCLA Medical Center where he is now recuperating. A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Rick Flores, said that the man's injuries were not deadly and he was conscious and breathing on his own when taken to the hospital.
Although sharks rarely attack people, California has had 101 cases of humans attacked by a great white shark since 1950s, 13 of which were fatal. The animals tend to attack if they feel threatened.