Recent university grad and sometime model Bethany Edmund describes her terrifying encounter off the coast of Carlsbad.
An Encinitas lifeguard confirmed this week that Edmund, 22, was attacked by a juvenile great white last Tuesday while swimming a couple hundred feet offshore. These days, the nursing student who grew up in Carlsbad and Maui is studying for her registered-nurse boards and looking for a job. Last week when the shark attacked, all the recent National University grad had with her was a digital camera and her swimsuit. Here is the story in her words -- ED.:
“I‘ve been in the water since I was probably 2.... I spearfish [off Carlsbad], I surf there, I standup paddleboard there.... I was gonna surf, but it was walled out, so I took my camera out."
“I saw a sea bass jump right in front of me, and I tried to get it on camera, but I didn’t get it. About 30 seconds afterward, I felt a sharp pain in my right foot, and I thought that I had kicked reef, but I shrugged it off and kept taking pictures. Then, about 30 seconds later, I felt the same pain in that foot, but it was a blunt pain, it wasn’t the sharp pain, it was more blunt, toward the back of my heel."
"I started to swim away, and about a minute later, I was swimming away from the area, and I felt a hit on my right thigh, and that one pushed me up about a foot out of the water. When I came down, I saw a 6-foot shadow under me -- it was about 6 feet -- it was bigger than I was. It was then that I realized what could be happening, and I started to body-surf toward shore."
“I thought to myself, I can freak out and swim as fast as possible to the shore, or I can wait here for the next set and just swim in. Either way, the shark is still going to be in the water. It’s not going anywhere."
"The first wave I caught, it felt like somebody grabbed me and yanked me back toward the wave, and when I surfaced, I thought it was the swimmers around me, and I said, 'Hey, did you guys grab my leg? And they said, 'No, we’re 10 feet from you."
"I ... caught the next wave, and I felt the same sharp pain on my calf that I felt on my foot earlier. This time, I was pulled underwater and shaken for four or five seconds, and I accidentally kicked it, and whatever it was let me go. At that point I was in waist-high water and I just ran out of the water."
"I feel like it kept attacking me or bumping me to see if I was going to take off and it could chase me, but when I didn’t, it just got mad and it wanted me out of its area."
The Nearby Surfer
Edmund said that a surfer nearby heard Edmund yell during the attack and -- some would say, understandably -- abandoned her.
"After I was hit and out of the water, a surfer saw me bump up out of the water, and I said, 'Fuck me, I’m getting attacked by a shark,' and he, I think I heard it, and he just started paddling in, and I yelled at him. I said, 'Hey, bailer, I hope if I die you feel bad.' He just ran out of the water and up the stairs, and I’ve never seen him again. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a local at all."
"Why, if you’re on a longboard, wouldn’t you help someone? I wasn’t scared -- if you’re on a longboard and you see somebody struggling with an animal, why would you not help them?"
On What Happened Afterward
"I got out of the water and did one of those turnaround, look at the water and thought, 'What the heck was that that just happened?' And then I got in my car and went home."
"I still wasn’t sure what happened. I was kind of in that shock stage, and I didn’t want to alert the lifeguard if it wasn’t a shark or anything dangerous. I didn’t want to freak people out."
"Before I got in my car, I called a couple friends and told them I thought I was attacked by a shark, and they were like, ‘No way, you’re lying.’ ” And then I got in my car and I went home, and I started uploading the pictures, and that’s when I saw the pictures of the shark on my camera."
"I was pretty sure the lifeguards had gone home by then, so I went the next day and I notified them. They just took the report, took pictures. They said they were going to send pictures to a specialist and they would keep me notified if they found anything out."
"The tower guard at Tamarack beach told me to send my story to the Pacific Coast Shark Research Committee, and so I did that. Ralph S. Collier from SRC called me on Friday and said he wanted to let me know it was a juvenile 5-6 foot white shark that attacked me."
"When I initially reported the attack, I didn’t want it reported to the media, because I didn’t want to scare people for no reason, and because it wasn’t confirmed what actually attacked me."
On Her Critics Who Say It Wasn't a Shark Attack
"Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I would gladly switch places with them if I could."
"The lifeguards did an awesome job of helping me report the incident and finding out what actually bit me."
On Getting Back in the Water
"I went back that Thursday, and I surfed for the first time Thursday at Tamarack [in Carlsbad, not far from where the attack took place].... It felt great getting back in the water.... I went in [last Thursday] up to my waist ... and I got out. Then I went back in and bodysurfed for three or four minutes and got back out. "
This week, though, she got back in the water and stayed in, surfing for a couple hours.
"I’m not scared of the ocean, and I don’t think [other people] should be. The shark is long gone now."