California Surfer Hospitalized After Suffering Intense Great White Shark Bite Off of Gray Whale Cove State Beach

by Amy Myers

Great white shark attacks in the U.S. are rare, but when they do happen, they tend to result in extreme injuries or even death. Thankfully, for this California surfer, it was the former.

Located south of San Fransisco, Gray Whale Cove State Beach is one of California’s many popular surfing sites. So when the 35-year-old man placed his board into the cool blue water on Saturday morning, he probably thought the day would go just like any other. Catch a few waves before the crowds of people came and head home before noon. However, a passing great white shark had other plans for the surfer.

Man Survives Great White Shark Attack, Thanks to Bystander

At the shoreline, Thomas Masotta had only been fishing for a few minutes when he heard someone crying for help.

“I had been fishing for about 15 minutes when I heard a guy, kind of over his shoulder, just holler for me,” Masotta told KNTV. “And I looked over at him, he was waving me and he just collapsed down to the ground.”

The man miraculously had just swam to shore with a great white shark bite on his right leg. Masotta, thinking quickly, called for help and proceeded to administer first aid.

“I looked at the guy and said, ‘Help might be on its way, but let’s get you taken care of,'” Masotta explained. “He was pretty alert. In fact, he was the one that said, ‘Do you have anything that I can use to tie around my leg?'”

Masotta used some of his fishing supplies to create a makeshift tourniquet for the surfer’s lacerated leg.

Thankfully, an ambulance arrived shortly after and took the great white shark victim to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. He has since recovered and left the hospital.

Shark Attacks Are Still Rare in the U.S.

If reading this article makes you nervous to dip your toes in the ocean, have no fear. Despite the recent accident, shark attacks are still rare in the country. Only 33 shark attacks occurred in the U.S. in 2020, an extremely low ratio considering how many people swim in the ocean each year. In fact, great white sharks don’t even consider humans a part of their diet. According to David Ebert, program director for the Pacific Shark Research Center, great white attacks are likely a result of curiosity.

“[Humans] are not on the menu. We occasionally have shark incidents like we did today, but it’s generally very rare,” Ebert told KNTV. “In the case of surfers, they probably can’t make out exactly what it was. They know there is something there, but doesn’t have the same type of vibe that a seal does. It’s probably a lot of times where you see the bite and spit. Where the shark will bite the surfer and let it go. It’s probably more of an investigatory action.”