Lomita, CA — Long-distance swimmer Steven Robles was recovering at his Lomita home Sunday after being bit by a great white shark near the Manhattan Beach Pier the previous day.
Robles, a Palos Verdes-based Realtor, was training for a September swimming event in Hawaii with 14 other swimmers when the 7-foot shark bit his hand and torso area.
A fisherman had hooked the shark Saturday morning and been attempting to reel it in for about 40 minutes when the agitated animal attacked Robles.
“It’s called a provoked attack, which means the shark was angry and it wanted to get away. The shark did not come up and purposefully attack somebody,” director of Roundhouse Aquarium on the pier and witness to the incident Erin Martin said.
The 50-year-old swimmer said he saw the animal coming toward him and injured his right hand while attempting to fight it off.
“At that point, when I felt that crunch going right into my chest – that was it. I thought, ‘Oh, my God,’” he said. “I grabbed his nose … and started pushing him, trying to pry him off of my chest. He released himself and swam away immediately. I never saw him again.”
Robles was treated at the UCLA Medical Center and released Saturday night to recover at his Lomita home, he said.
He had swam in the Manhattan Beach area his entire life and was unsure if he would return to the sport.
If he had sustained life threatening injuries, Robles would have been the thirteenth person to die from a shark attack in U.S. waters since 2001, according to Florida Museum of Natural History data.
Glenda Robles said she is “thankful my husband is alive, and that he has a second chance.”
The attack was a rare occurrence, Steven Robles said, but he was still shocked and frustrated by the fisherman’s actions.
The fisherman, who asked not to be identified, described the incident in an interview.
“The rules and regulations are, when a great white is hooked, as soon as you can identify it you’re supposed to cut your line,” he said.
Officials closed the beach to swimmers for several hours following the attack and “coaxed” the juvenile shark back into deeper waters, according to a L.A. County Sheriff’s Department news release.
Fishing would not be allowed until Tuesday for unknown reasons, according to a Manhattan Beach Police Department news release.
Officials gave conflicting reports of the shark’s size, some saying it was 10 feet long.
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