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Shark attacks surfer at Montaña de Oro, clamping down on both legs

Update, 7:15 a.m. Wednesday

Cal Poly student and surfer Nick Wapner shares his shark attack story. Read the full interview here.

Original story:

A surfer was attacked by a shark at Sandspit Beach at Montaña de Oro State Park near Los Osos on Tuesday morning, according to a State Parks official.

Montaña de Oro State Park Ranger Supervisor Robert Colligan told The Tribune the attack took place about 10 a.m. on 19-year-old Cal Poly student Nick Wapner.

Wapner, originally from Palos Verdes near Los Angeles, was interviewed by a state park ranger at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, where he received medical treatment for bites to both of his legs, Colligan said.

He said Wapner was “shaken up” by the incident but was able to describe an estimated 15-foot-long great white shark with an 18-inch dorsal fin clamping down on his right ankle and then all the way up to his left thigh.

Wapner was able to kick at the shark and free himself, according to Colligan, and the shark didn’t penetrate through his limbs.

“It may have been kind of an exploratory bite, as sharks will sometimes do,” Colligan said. “The shark might have bitten, and then realized it wasn’t what it was looking for and let go.”

Colligan said Wapner received about 50 stitches to close his wounds.

“He had a couple of deep wounds,” Colligan said. “The injuries weren’t life threatening, and he was already talking about getting back out into the water to surf again sometime soon.”

A photo of Colligan’s board with a half-ring of teeth marks was posted by the local surfing organization Still Frothy, and widely shared on social media.

Colligan said Wapner was surfing with about three friends, who were nearly to shore when the incident happened and didn’t witness the attack.

The waves were about 4 to 5 feet high, and Wapner was about 100 yards offshore, Colligan said.

No local agency responded to the incident because Wapner got himself to the hospital by car, Colligan said. State Parks found out about the incident about 2 p.m. and then dispatched a ranger to interview the surfer.

Colligan said warning signs about the attack have been posted from Morro Strand State Beach to Montaña de Oro, but people may enter the water at their own risk.

Central Coast Surfboards Manager Corbett Horn told The Tribune by phone that other surfers have spotted sharks at Sandspit, though he hasn’t seen one there personally, and that August through March tends to be the season for them.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.
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