When a 6′ Tiger Shark Bites Both Feet

Tiger Shark teeth are more like needles, than the typical “V’-shaped Great White’s teeth. That is why you don’t see the usual tearing of most shark attacks in these photos, even though the surfer was yanked off of his board, as he was paddling out. (Click on them to enlarge) From the bite pattern. experts estimated that this was a 6 footer. Here is his story:

sharked-foot3.jpg sharked-foot.jpg sharked-foot2.jpgMy girlfriend and eventual wife, Nat and I were in Florida visiting her family. During our stay the surf had been either flat or small, but on this day the surf had come up to overhead or better. We decided to watch the swell for awhile and wait for the tide to drop so the reef break in front of her house would build a little juice.

At about 10:00 am we put on our suits, waxed up the 6’2’s and walked the 2 blocks back up to the beach. Upon arriving, I slapped on my leash, ran down the beach to the water, and quickly began paddling through the soup as we had to go through about five rows of waves to get to the main peak. After three duck dives, I was about 30 meters off shore and still in white water, when I was grabbed from behind by my feet and pulled off my board, directly backwards. I was not shaken but was held for what seemed like forever, in fact, it was most likely two seconds or so. It was a shark….

The bite felt like a vice grip with knives in it, incredibly strong, and I couldn’t pull my feet free from it while it held me (which later turned out to be a good deal for me). Nat, at this point, was just starting to get in the water, so after the shark attacked me, I began yelling to her, “Get out of the water! Get out of the water! Shark, shark!” I then paddled as hard as I could the 30 meters in to shore, still at this point unsure of what had exactly happened and how bad the injury would be. As I got closer to shore, Nat figured out what had happened and was able to help me out of the water.

There was blood everywhere and I was losing it fast, I knew I would need to get back to Nat’s house, get my feet elevated, and somehow stop this bleeding. So we ran (not sure how I did this) the 2 blocks back to her house, leaving blood everywhere along the way. I ended up in her bathtub and got the blood stopped within 10 minutes of the attack. These construction guys who had seen the attack, called an ambulance and it arrived soon after we got the blood stopped. The paramedics whisked me away to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach. During this whole period, I was coming in and out of awareness, having lost a lot of blood as well as being in an extreme amount of pain from both the holes in my feet as well as from the crushing bite that had been incurred on them.

Upon arrival to the hospital, I was given pain killers to calm me down. I never have felt pain like this before, the burning alone was almost unbearable and the feeling of my feet being crushed was just was killing me. So once the pain killers started to work, the nurses needed to clean out the bites and see how extensive the injuries were. So taking a stiff, brillo-like pad, they began to scrub down the bitten area, which turned out to be on both feet as well as both sides of each foot. The bite mark makes an almost perfect jaw line, with over 75 individual puncture wounds and in some places 4 rows of teeth can be seen. After scrubbing the holes with betadine and peroxide, the doctor decided I shouldn’t have stitches because the holes were too deep, in fact some of them went all the way through my foot, so I lucked out there. As I said earlier, I was lucky that I couldn’t pull my feet out of the shark’s mouth as it would have torn my feet worse than they already were.

As of today, I am still fully wrapped up and hobbling around on crutches. I’m looking forward to walking again and getting back in the water to surf.


The irony of all this is that I was on vacation from my job as a shark researcher on the Farallon islands off San Francisco. I spend my days in a Whaler recording feeding behavior of Great Whites munching on elephant seals. I guess you could say this has expanded my perspective. Glad I’m not a seal.

12 thoughts on “When a 6′ Tiger Shark Bites Both Feet”

  1. WOW….. that sounds sooo sore. Id probbaly DIE!!!
    I cant even imagian the pain. And going right through my foot, NO!

    But I love animals so i dont know what I would do if a shark attacked me.:-(

  2. great attitude! When someone goes through something horrific like that and not only survives but wants to continue their life unaltered by fear, I love it!

  3. tiger shark are know for their ability to shatter turtles into pieces, human feet stronger than solid turtle shell? those look like a small nurse grey shark or a sand tiger shark. At least you have an interesting story to tell

  4. Oh my god.I just couldn’t read after the second paragraph.That is just really sad.Now I know that I shouldn’t go swimming in the ocean.

  5. !! My name is Derek, I was surfing in shell beach and this happened to me too on July 2 2010! Im currently recovering, how can I get in contact with this person? Its unbelievable how much I can relate to this, I cant believe I found this. Please respond!

  6. As comment No.6 Feitan said, This is never a Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) bite. it is more likely a Sand Tiger, which is also known as a Grey Nurse or Spotted Ragged Tooth Shark. (Carcharias taurus). Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) have an almost triangular shaped tooth with a sharp point and a serrated side for tearing their prey. Completely different from a Sand Tiger Shark’s teeth. Easily confused because of the name though! You are correct

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