A large shark attacked a kayak Tuesday off Santa Cruz, leaving frightening bite marks on the boat.
Police in Santa Cruz investigated and confirmed the attack, then shut down all beach waters within a 1-mile radius for at least four days.
The experienced kayaker, Steve Lawson, was paddling past a kelp bed at the city’s popular surf spot Steamer Lane when he felt a jolt to his kayak. He looked down and saw what he believes was a great white.
“I saw the shark hanging on the front end of my boat,” Lawson told KSBW-TV.
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The shark bit the front of the boat and sent Lawson into the water. He used a radio to call for a rescue from the Harbor Patrol, but he had to tread water in terror for a few minutes.
“I spent a little time in the water swimming around. I panicked, everyone panics,” Lawson said. “There’s a shark in the water, but he didn’t come back. He wasn’t interested in me.”
The Harbor Patrol showed up within about 90 seconds.
“They got out there and pulled him to safety,” Santa Cruz fire Chief Jim Frawley said. The kayaker escaped without injury.
Lawson’s experience helped him.
“This was someone who knows what he’s doing,” Frawley said. “He’s very well versed.”
The bottom of the kayak showed shallow cracks and damage from the shark’s bite.
“Attacks like these are extremely rare in Santa Cruz County, and we are so thankful that the kayaker wasn’t injured,” Frawley said.
Lawson tells KGO-TV that he has no plans to stop kayaking after 25 years because of the attack.
He posed with police, smiling, for photos soon after the run-in.