PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon surfer who was attacked by a shark earlier this month says the huge animal felt like “grainy sand paper” as he struggled to free his leg from its mouth.
Joseph Tanner said at a news conference Wednesday that his entire leg was in the shark’s mouth and he punched its gills to get free.
The 29-year-old was attacked while surfing Oct. 10 near Cannon Beach off the Oregon coast by what experts say was likely a great white shark.
Tanner spent nine days in the hospital and had three surgeries on his leg.
Tanner, a trauma nurse, swam to shore after the attack and instructed others how to tie a tourniquet around his mangled leg.
According to KPTV in Portland, Tanner said at the news conference: “I was off my board just resting on it like you would, like a high counter, and then all of a sudden something grabbed me from below. My whole leg was in its mouth.”
The shark then pulled him underwater, he told reporters.
“I’m like, no way, this is not happening. And then I thought I was going to die.”
Tanner said he punched the shark in its gills until it let him go. Then, he had to swim back to shore.
“That was the scariest part, just feeling like you’re being chased, leaving a trail – a trail of breadcrumbs,” he said, referring to his bleeding leg.