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MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — A swimmer who was attacked by a shark near a pier in California said the incident was terrifying.
“I felt the shark biting into me and I thought this is it,” Steven Robles told CNN on Sunday.
Mr. Robles was swimming with friends several hundred yards from shore when the attack occurred on Saturday.
“I saw it come real close to me and then it turned and lunged right at my chest,” he said. “I was in complete panic. I felt the shark biting into me and I thought, ‘This is it. Oh, my God, I’m going to die.’ ”
He said he grabbed and punched the 7-foot juvenile great white shark’s nose, and it swam away.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to get this thing off me,’ and I grabbed his nose,” he said. “I was fortunate the shark bit into fat tissue and did not go into my organs.”
Mr. Robles suffered a single bite wound on the right side of his rib cage and was helped to shore by surfers. He was treated at Harbor UCLA Medical Center.
“I still feel pretty shaken up,” he said. “It was pretty scary out there.”
Witnesses told authorities that 45 minutes earlier the shark bit a baited hook at the end of a fishing line thrown by a fisherman from the edge of Manhattan Beach Pier and was thrashing around in the water when it bit the swimmer.
“He was trying to get off the line,” said Capt. Tracy Lizotte, a Los Angeles County lifeguard. “He was agitated and was probably biting everything in his way, and then the swimmer swam right into the shark’s line.”
Captain Lizotte said it’s not unusual for sharks to swim past the pier. “That’s where they live,” he said. “It’s their home.”
Great white shark sightings are on the rise at some Southern California beaches, especially off popular Manhattan Beach.
Last month, local photographer Bo Bridges used a drone to film a great white shark swimming close to paddle-boarders in Manhattan Beach.
In December, a paddle-boarder shot video of three great whites between 8 and 10-feet long, circling underneath his board. Recent YouTube clips show the predators moving around in the waters near the shore.
Many of the sharks are juveniles learning to fend for themselves, said Chris Lowe, a marine biology professor at Cal State Long Beach. Researchers still don’t know why Manhattan Beach is so popular for the predators.
Since 1950, 13 shark-attack fatalities have occurred in California waters.