Shark Attack In Santa Cruz, California: Great White Breaches Water, Attacks Surfer

A shark attack off of the shores of Santa Cruz County in northern California Saturday left a surfer frightened — but fortunately unharmed — as the Great White shark seemed more interested in his surfboard than in taking a bite out of a human being.

Surfer Beau Browning was riding the waves about 150 feet out to sea at Manresa State Beach shortly before 7 pm September 13, when what he described to local TV station KSBW as a 15-foot Great White shark leaped out of the water and landed squarely on his surfboard.

The shark was so heavy that the surfboard sustained serious cracks and Browning had to dispose of it.

“I caught my second wave, and barely got into it and out of nowhere, I was popped into the air by probably like 10-15 feet, and I looked down and saw a shark,” Browning told the TV station. “He took a bite on the way down.”

Browning said that he was more in danger of drowning than suffering a shark bite, because he remained tethered to the surfboard throughout the surprise shark attack. As a result, he said, when the shark swam away, Browning was dragged under the water for several seconds until the shark freed itself if the surfboard.

Though shaken up by the shark attack, Browning said that he does not bear any ill will toward the shark, or any shark.

“They were just doing what they’re designed to do,” the surfer said. “And they thought I was something else. And that’s all it is. I got no hard feelings against sharks.”

The reported shark attack was only the seventh in Santa Cruz County in the past 88 years. None of the shark attacks has resulted in a human fatality.

A Florida surfer in August was not as lucky as Browning, however. On August 29, 17-year-old Brendan Murphy was attacked by a small shark no more than four feet in length. But the shark gave him a leg wound that required 15 staples. Murphy is still recovering from the shark attack.

Most shark attacks in California have occurred further south than Santa Cruz and adjacent Monterey County. Scientists speculate that the plentiful population of seals and other pinniped animals in the area provides enough food for the local sharks, keeping them away from humans.