A spearfisherman underwent a second surgery Sunday and is expected to have a third later this week after a great white shark badly mangled his right leg in an attack off Pebble Beach, California.
Grigor Azatian, 25, was spearfishing with his father near Stillwater Cove in Monterey Bay when the shark attack occurred Friday afternoon.
Azatian, who had shot two lingcod and a cabezon, pointed out his fishing spot to his father, took a couple of underwater photos then dove back down with his speargun, according to The Mercury News. It was then that he spotted the great white shark, estimated to be 15 feet in length.
Azatian surfaced to warn his father and as he waited for him to resurface, the shark attacked him from behind.
“The shark grabbed him and didn’t let him go, and took at least two bites” — mid-thigh and below the knee, Armen Azatian, the father, told The Mercury News. “He tried to fight with the shark. I don’t think he could do much, maybe pushing, moving his legs.”
It was reported that Grigor punched the shark’s face and kicked, and that one bite grazed his arm. Free from the shark’s grasp, he screamed as he swam to the dinghy 20 yards away, followed shortly by his father.
“It was horrifying; his muscles were torn apart,” Armen told The Mercury News. “I didn’t have the luxury to panic, to scream and be emotional. I had to concentrate and do everything possible to help my son.”
Armen used a float line to tie a tourniquet around his son’s leg and motored their Zodiac 10 minutes into Pebble Beach.
Armen asked his son how the pain was “and he would say, ‘It’s OK,’” Armen related. “I see it’s not OK. The whole right leg is torn apart and bloody.”
Two off-duty sheriff deputies, one trained in emergency field medicine, had been fishing nearby and went to help, tightening the tourniquet, according to The Washington Post.
Paramedics arrived and transported Grigor to Natividad Medical Center in Salinas where he underwent a two-hour surgery.
“That was the longest waiting time in my entire life,” Armen recalled to The Mercury News. “It was so horrible.”
The surgeon came out of the surgery with guarded optimism.
Fortunately the shark didn’t hit a major artery and Grigor did not suffer great tissue loss, though a thin muscle was badly damaged.
The Mercury News reported that the muscle remains at risk but that Sunday’s surgery was successful. The Post said Grigor was expected to make a full recovery.
Shark attacks, especially by great whites, are extremely uncommon and rarely fatal.
The massive sharks are killing machines — apex predators that can grow to 20 feet long and weigh more than 4,000 pounds, according to the Smithsonian. But they don’t find humans all that appetizing, preferring to eat the fatty, calorie-dense seals that inhabit California’s coastlines…
Most people who get attacked by sharks survive…
And people who get attacked are probably mistaken for something else — particularly people thrashing around in the water near schools of fish…
Although it’s not uncommon to spot sharks along the California coast, they seem to be appearing in greater numbers of late…Higher sea temperatures could be at play, but the increase in reports could also be because of a larger number of smartphones in the hands of beachgoers, who quickly spread video of the attacks.
There are also, simply put, more people. As the global population grows, so does the number of beachgoers splashing into sharks’ natural habitat.
After the incident, authorities warned people to stay out of the water in Stillwater Cove, and searched the area for the shark. The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office said an air unit “spotted a large aquatic animal off Pescadero Point, which may have been a shark.”
Obviously, Armen was extremely grateful that his son survived, knowing it could’ve been a whole lot worse.
“That shark might have dragged him down,” Armen told The Mercury News.
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