A 38-year-old man was hunting crabs at Gray Whale Cove State Park south of San Francisco, California, when he looked down and realized a great white shark had just bitten him.
“As I was putting the crab back, and surfacing (in 7 to 10 feet of depth) I felt a mosquito bite-like pain and a slight push,” Nemanja Spasojevic told KTVU Fox 2 Monday. “As I wrapped my legs around I could see the face of the shark. I was looking at it from the surface so I could not confirm the white underbelly but I could see its nose and black eyes.”
The diver frantically swam back to shore, hugging close to rocks on the shoreline to create a barrier between him and the shark, Spasojevic told NBC Bay Area. He kicked frantically and hoped if the shark were to strike again, it would just bite his fins.
Spasojevic said the shark was “no bigger than a dolphin” and only bit him once in the back of the leg. As he swam, he said he could see his wetsuit pooling with blood. The shark’s teeth left 10 puncture wounds in his leg, NBC reported.
INCIDENT UPDATE: Upon arrival at Gray Whale Cove firefighters/paramedics found a male on the beach with a confirmed bite to his body. Patient was treated with advanced life support measures and transported to a local trauma center in serious condition. pic.twitter.com/z3dcy9gTR6
— CAL FIRE CZU (@CALFIRECZU) June 26, 2021
Once Spasojevic got to shore, he called for help and a nearby fisherman, Thomas Masotta, came to the rescue.
“He called out to me, then collapsed,” Masotta told NBC News. “He was rolling around on the ground and said he wasn’t in a lot of pain but was worried that he was losing a lot of blood.”
Masotta tried to stop the bleeding using scraps of fishing equipment from his backpack as a makeshift tourniquet and dialed 911. He had difficulties reaching authorities due to spotty cell service on the beach and needed to run up the road in order to make contact.
When paramedics arrived 10 minutes later, Spasojevic got some good news.
“I was asking, ‘Hey, is my leg going to be kind of good?’ They were saying, ‘Yeah you’re gonna keep the leg.’ So I was like okay, I’ve got a leg, I’m gonna live, what more can I ask for, you know?'” Spasojevic told NBC.
The diver was transported to San Francisco General Hospital’s trauma facility for treatment and released within a few hours.
“I’m probably the luckiest guy in the world to get hit by the great white and to walk out of the hospital the same day,” he told NBC Bay Area. (RELATED: Surf Championships Cancelled After Shark Attacks, Eats A Man’s Board)
Spasojevic is an experienced snorkel and surfer. He has explored the beaches of San Mateo County on numerous occasions and is aware there are sharks in the water. He also does not blame the animal for the incident, and plans to get back in the water as soon as he recovers.
“I think sharks are not the bad guys. It’s their kind of home. We’re just visitors,” Spasojevic told NBC. “I’m going to visit again, for sure.”