Associate Editor

On Tuesday morning, around 10 a.m., 19-year-old Nick Wapner was attacked by what he estimated to be a 15-foot great white shark at Montaña de Oro State Park along California’s Central Coast.

Wapner had been surfing Sandspit Beach for about an hour when, as he explained to The San Luis Obispo Tribune, he was lying on his board waiting for the next wave. Suddenly, his feet flung in the air and he felt pressure around his legs. “I turned and saw that it had one of my legs in its mouth,” he said.

What happened next transpired quickly but, as these things often do, likely felt like an eternity for Wapner as the shark bore down on both his legs from his ankles to his thighs.

Miraculously, Wapner wiggled free and booked it to shore. Wapner told The Tribune he believes the shark bit him out of curiosity.


“I think between the fiberglass board and me, it realized pretty quickly it wasn’t a seal,” he said. “Fiberglass isn’t too tasty, I don’t think. For the shark, it was probably just a play tap really, but for me, it was a major ordeal.”

In a video interview, Wapner points to bandaged wounds near both ankles and both thighs that paint a haunting picture of the size of the animal’s jaws that attacked him.

After making it to shore, and later to the hospital, Wapner reportedly received 50 stitches and was discharged Tuesday afternoon.

In spite of his wounds, Wapner doesn’t harbor any ill will toward the shark that attacked him or sharks in general.


“I don’t hate sharks now or anything,” he told The Tribune. “We are in their home when we’re out there in the ocean. Sharks are part of the natural environment and they help maintain a healthy ocean environment.”

Wapner says he feels lucky to be alive and that he’ll definitely keep surfing.


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