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VIDEO: Man bitten by shark in Southern California

Note: Video contains language that some may find offensive.

Steven Robles’s Saturday morning routine included swimming from Hermosa Beach north to Manhattan Beach in Southern California. He was a serious distance swimmer who, with a group, went for miles far from the shore.

It was his bad luck on this particular Saturday morning that as he completed his second mile, a fisherman had hooked a seven-foot-long great white shark some 300 yards from the beach, according to news reports, unbeknownst to Robles and the other swimmers.

Sharks don’t generally attack swimmers. That’s not part of their routine. But this one was trapped and struggling to break free of the line and angry.

“It came up to the surface, it looked at me and attacked me right on the side of my chest,” Robles told KABC-TV. “That all happened within two seconds, I saw the eyes of the shark as I was seeing it swim toward me. It lunged at my chest, and it locked into my chest.”

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is it. Oh my God, I’m going to die. This is really, this is it,’ ” Robles told CNN.

Nader Nejadhashemi was one of a dozen amateur distance swimmers nearby Robles.

Nejadhashemi didn’t see the shark, which was five feet away. Instead, he saw the carnage. The Associated Press:

“He said ‘I’ve been bit,’ and he was screaming,” recalled Nejadhashemi. At first Nejadhashemi thought Robles must have had a cramp. “Then,” he said, “I saw the blood.”

Robles later had more details for NBC4: “I used my hand to grab his nose, pried him off me … I mean, I thought that was it. For just a second I thought this was it, I was really scared.”

After the shark let go of Robles, Nejadhashemi and others managed to get him on to a paddleboard. He was pulled to shore and treated by paramedics.

The shark remained in the area for about 20 minutes before disappearing. It was unclear whether it ultimately broke free from the line or the line was cut by the fisherman or someone else. A mile-long stretch of beach was temporarily off-limits to swimmers as lifeguards patrolled to make sure the shark had indeed disappeared.

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Rick Flores, a Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman, told the Associated Press Robles suffered from punctures to his upper right side. Robles was released from the hospital by Sunday morning.

Shark attacks are rare. According to National Geographic, only 12 people were killed by shark attacks between 2001 and 2013.

On Sunday, the beach was crowded again.

The Associated Press:

It’s illegal to fish for great white sharks. The fisherman told several local media that he was trying to catch a bat ray, not a shark, and that he didn’t cut the line sooner because of how many swimmers were in the water. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the wildlife officials were investigating; a department spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.


Nick Kirkpatrick is the foreign photo editor at the Washington Post. Follow him on Instagram or Twitter.

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