Shark-Bitten Man Was “Completely Lucky”

Diver chronicled brush with shark online

By Michael Gehlken
|  Wednesday, Jun 8, 2011  |  Updated 5:08 PM PDT
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Shark-Bitten Man Was “Completely Lucky”

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A man suffered only minimal damage to his wetsuit Monday afternoon when a shark bit him near the Children’s Pool in La Jolla, later calling himself “completely lucky to emerge unscathed.”

Justin Schlaefli, 28, was spear fishing with two others near a lifeguard tower at about 2 p.m. when they were confronted by the fish, which was a possible 7-foot-long sevengill shark, San Diego lifeguards said.

In the Shark Attack Survivors online message board, Schlaefli chronicled the incident Tuesday and wrote it was “obvious” the shark was trying to bite a calico fish attached to his stringer.

Instead, the shark took three soft bites to his calf, “a bit like a dog who is playing with you and ‘bites’ your hand,” he wrote.

After about three seconds, the shark swam toward one of Schlaefli’s companions, who attempted to shoot the shark, Schlaefli wrote.

Lifeguards said he missed and ended up losing his spear.

The group then hurried to shore.

“After we got out, I looked at my leg thinking I must have been bit and thinking I might be in shock and not realize that I was missing flesh,” he wrote. “…There were pretty clear gashes in my wetsuit from the teeth but I have no injury to speak of.

”I consider my self completely lucky to emerge unscathed, and I am grateful that my dive buddies didn't bail on me and head straight for shore at the first sign of shark. If they didn't see it happen and I didn't have the marks on my wetsuit, I almost wouldn't believe it … I have to admit that it is a bizarre story.”

Lifeguards said there would be no closures or new signs to the area, adding that the sharks live in the area and "these things happen."

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