A surfer who has been injured in the UK’s first shark attack said his winter wetsuit saved him from more serious harm.
Rich Thomson said he fought with the ‘small’ animal after being bitten in the sea off Bantham beach, south Devon.
The 30-year-old teacher was left with a bruised leg and cuts to his hands after he hit it on the head, the BBC reports.
No other attack of this kind has happened to surfers in UK waters, according to experts, who believe the shark could have been a smooth hound.
Rich said the shark, estimated at about 3ft long, ‘grabbed’ him on the leg.
I turned round and saw this little shark was on my thigh and wriggling its head side to side.
I hit it on the head and it swam off. My hand was cut to pieces.
He said he believes his ‘thick winter wetsuit’ protected him from a more serious injury.
I had a quite a sizeable bruise about three inches across.
I went home and told my wife I was late because I had been bitten by a shark. She said ‘I’ve heard that one before’, but it was true.
It won’t stop me going back in the water and it shouldn’t stop anyone, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ali Hood, who is the director of conservation at Shark Trust in Plymouth, said the small shark would likely have been ‘disorientated by the turbid, dynamic water’ of the river mouth.
British waters are home to a wide diversity of sharks with a number of coastal species such as smooth hound, tope and cat sharks often reported by beachgoers and water users.
Marc Dando, a wildlife publisher and illustrator, said he thought the shark was probably a smooth hound. But neither he nor Ms Hood had heard of a shark of any sort biting a surfer in British waters.
Hardly Jaws, but awful nonetheless.