A pair of hero paddle boarders helped save a surfer in trouble amid a shark attack on Wednesday off the Northern California coast. The surfer has since been hospitalised.
Police officer Paul Bandy and his wife, a nurse, reportedly clocked the surfer, who has since been identified as Steve Bruemmer, on the shore at Lover’s Point Beach in the town of Pacific Grove and saw what appeared to be a struggle in the water so they called 911.
“He was screaming for help, you could tell the sound and the emotion in his voice that there was something definitely wrong and he was slapping the water. I wasn’t sure if that was some sort of thing he was trying to get something away from him or just trying to draw attention to himself,” recalled Mr Bandy to the KSBW 8.
Emergency responders arrived at 10.47am and pulled the surfer, who was still conscious, out of the water, according to the Monterey Herald.
Mr Bruemmer was later taken to the hospital with injuries to the leg and stomach, Pacific Grove city councilman Joe Amelia told KSBW.
“They got to him quickly,” a local fire official told the Carmel Pine Cone.
The Pacific Grove Police Department told The Independent it could not confirm whether the man was a surfer or swimmer, and that the department did not know the extent of his injuries.
The PGPD said Mr Bruemmer, who as per KSBW 8 is a member of “a local swimming club that swims off of Lovers Point most days of the week”, was being treated at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, California.
The Independent has reached out to the hospital for comment.
Officials have shut down the beach for the time being, roping off entrances with caution tape and signs warning about sharks.
The beach will be closed for 48 hours, according to California State Parks protocol.
BREAKING: All beaches in Pacific Grove will be closed for at least 48 hours following a shark attack at Lovers Point this morning. pic.twitter.com/JcsxVVV3Sp
— Molly Gibbs (@MollyMGibbs) June 22, 2022
Pacific Grove Police are putting signs up at Lover’s Point beach now. Due to a shark attack this morning, the beach will be closed for 48hrs, per State Parks protocol. Working to find out if other beaches in the area will be closed too @KION546 pic.twitter.com/j6dftmOH6b
— Calista Silva (@SilvaPhotog) June 22, 2022
People could see the shark from the beach, Pacific Grove resident Rhonda Navarro told KION.
Shark attacks of all kinds are extremely rare and rarely fatal. Since the 1950s, there have only been 202 shark incidents in California involving all species of shark, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, most involving white sharks. As of March 2022, 15 of those incidents were fatal.
“It is important to note that while human beach use and ocean activities have greatly increased due to the growing population and greater popularity of surfing, swimming, and scuba diving, shark incidents have not increased proportionally,” the department says on its website. “This is even more evident when looking at incidents where a person was injured.”
According to one research project, the chances of being bitten by a shark are 1 in 11.5 million. The most dangerous part of an ocean swim, many argue, is the drive to the beach.
Nonetheless, humans kill about 100 million sharks a year, out of a mix of commercial interests and cultural fears of the imposing predators, often driven by movies like Jaws and sensational media coverage.