An agitated great white shark fighting off a fisherman bit a swimmer's upper torso area near the Manhattan Beach Pier (map) Saturday morning, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard Division's spokesman Rick Flores.
A fisherman had hooked the shark and been attempting to reel in the animal for 30 to 40 minutes when a group of long-distance swimmers swam by the scene around 9:20 a.m., Flores said.
The fisherman, who asked not to be identified, recounted the incident in an interview.
"The rules and regulations are, when a great white is hooked, as soon as you can identify it you're supposed to cut your line," he said. "There was the long-distance swimmers coming from Hermosa [Beach]. At the wrong place, at the wrong time, they swam right into him, unknowingly."
The shark bit the 40-year-old swimmer's upper torso area then released him.
The man began screaming loudly after he was bit and people quickly attempted to swim out of the water as fisherman and onlookers shouted "get out of the water. Shark," cellphone video of the incident showed.
"I knew how to paddle out there and rescue someone … so we got him on a soft-top surfboard [and] started paddling him in," said a man who assisted in the rescue.
The injured swimmer was taken to the trauma center at UCLA Medical Center where he was said to be in stable condition, according to other LAFD officials.
He was awake and able to breathe the entire time on his own, Flores said.
Sheriff's deputies in a helicopter later assisted a lifeguard boat and Redondo Beach Harbor Patrol boat in coaxing the shark into deeper waters and away from the pier. The efforts took about 30 minutes, according to a L.A. County Sheriff's Department news release.
About one mile from Manhattan Beach to Hermosa Beach was temporarily closed off to swimmers following the attack, authorities said.
The stretch had been reopened as of 2:30 p.m., according to the Manhattan Beach Fire Department.
"We cast our bait out, that's what we have to do. But chumming — no," the fisherman said, referring to the practice of tossing fish parts into the water to attract sharks.
He said he had a message for the injured swimmer: "We are highly concerned about you — deeply, deeply concerned, deeply saddened, and hoping that you make a full recovery as soon as possible."
Flores said the shark was 7 feet, the LASD later stated it was 10 feet.
On Saturday evening, an electronic sign near the beach stated that fishing from the pier was prohibited until Tuesday.
LAFD offered the following safety tips after the incident:
- Check-in with a lifeguard before going into water
- Swim near an open lifeguard station
- Be aware of the marine environment and the wildlife that lives there
- Swim with a buddy