COOS BAY — An Oregon man says a great white shark knocked him off his surfboard near Winchester Bay.
David Lowden told “The World” newspaper in Coos Bay that he was paddling his board last week near the south jetty of the Umpqua River when a shark he estimated at nearly 14 feet broke the surface behind him.
“As I’m flying off the board, I got a good look at the shape of the shark,” said Lowden, who was not injured in the encounter.
The shark emerged halfway from the water and broke the fins off his surfboard.
“That probably scared it a bit. It thrashed around a bit … and after that it disappeared,” he said.
Lowden, 29, and another man surfed to the beach while a third surfer, Lowden’s friend, Mark Lorincz, of North Bend, clambered onto the jetty and ditched his board.
Lowden phoned the U.S. Coast Guard to report the encounter, then contacted the Shark Research Committee, a private group that tracks shark attack data.
A release from that organization characterized it as an “unprovoked shark attack.” It was the only recorded attack this year in Oregon, and the fifth along the Pacific Coast.
Alan Shanks, a professor at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, said the encounter described by Lowden is typical shark behavior.
Shanks said great white sharks often attack from below to stun seals, sea lions and other large prey.
“These guys are primarily big-thing eaters,” Shanks said. “A surfboard from below has a silhouette not unlike a marine mammal.”
Lowden said local surfers frequently see sharks. He has spotted six sharks while surfing on the Oregon coast, including one that bumped his board in 2006.
“I wasn’t that surprised, to tell you the truth,” Lowden said. “It’s not the first time I’ve had an encounter.”