surfer on N. Shore
An estimated 8-foot tiger shark
surprises the professional
surfer off Rocky Point
Greg Long has surfed the world over but yesterday had his first close encounter with what he estimates was an 8-foot tiger shark.
Long, of San Clemente, Calif., was on Oahu's North Shore surfing with friends when was bumped from below by a shark off Rocky Point, he said last night.
"Out of nowhere it just came up beneath me," said Long, who has been competing in the Monster Energy Pipeline Pro.
Long said he had been lying on his board 30 minutes during a lull between sets when the shark came straight up beneath him and grazed his left foot. The shark bit his surf board.
"Had I been sitting and had my legs dangling, it would have gotten at least one of them," he said. "I'm lucky.
"I knew that it didn't have me," he said, adding that he experienced the "initial shock of the board hitting me in the chest and knocking the wind out of me."
The shark was just out of his reach, and Long said he tried to swim away with his right leg and arm, while trying to shove and kick at the shark with his left leg and arm.
"I would have made an attempt at fighting it off," said Long, who started surfing at age 10 and said he knows that the best thing is to fight back if attacked.
Instead, Long hopped on his board and paddled back to the beach, escaping without a scratch.
He and another surfer 30 feet away, who witnessed the event, waved to everyone else to get out of the water.
Long, who is in his early 20s, has surfed in Europe, Africa, Australia and the islands of the Pacific and the Atlantic, and he has been fishing and diving most his life.
"This is by far the closest encounter I've had with a shark," he said.
Long guesses the shark was a tiger, based on its color -- grayish brown with stripes -- but didn't get a look at the shape of the body, saying it all happened so quickly.
The report forced the closure of North Shore beaches from Pipeline to Sunset.
The surfer's board was bitten, but the surfer got away unharmed, a state Department of Land and Natural Resources spokeswoman confirmed. A member of the state's shark task force was investigating.
Lifeguards were to decide today if the beaches should be reopened.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.