BODEGA BAY, Calif. – The water was eerily glassy and calm. Then a shark at least 17 feet long attacked from behind, leaving a young surfer desperately trying to defend herself.
“It was weird. I was sitting out there thinking, ‘Wow, this feels shark-y to me,’ ” Megan Halavais, 20, said Thursday. “It was straight out of ‘Jaws.’ “
Halavais was paddling into the water off Salmon Creek Beach in Sonoma County in Northern California on Wednesday when the shark attacked. Halavais, an experienced surfer, said she got away after she hit the shark on its tail.
The shark was probably 17 to 20 feet long, judging from the size of the bite, said Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Roger Rude.
“It’s big. I couldn’t fit my arms around its tail. Its fin, its main dorsal fin, was like taller than me,” Halavais recounted for reporters at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital as she sat in a wheelchair, her bandaged leg extended in front of her.
“I was just paddling,” she said. “It came from behind. Sharks, if they want to eat you, they don’t want you to see them before they eat you.”
“I felt a bump hit, I think that’s when he bit me. I think I grabbed around – I was like trying to throw my body on top by his dorsal fin and then grab the tail. I was trying to push. I was just pushing it away.”
Halavais, from Santa Rosa, was helped from the water by other surfers. She was taken to a hospital with a bite that stretched from her thigh to her calf. She was listed in fair condition.
The beach has been the site of several shark attacks in recent years. Police believe the shark likely was a great white. They have closed the beach and warned surfers in nearby locations.