Shark watch: California surfer recalls ‘black silhouette’ before great white attack, then ‘crunching’

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A California man shared his dramatic brush with death and a word of advice to surfers after he was attacked by a great white shark in 2022 – and lived to tell the tale.

Michael “Jared” Trainor told Fox News Digital he was driving out to a rugged beach in Ferndale, California, when it “occurred” to him that it was the middle of Sharktober, the span of September through December when sharks are more present along the coastline.

“It’s crazy to me that this was a couple of years ago already, but it was midday and I had been surfing this area for some time, and it’s pretty rugged and remote,” he recalled.

“And I had a little bit of unease just from thinking about the shark presence in the area,” Trainor added. “And I paddled out, and it was just an ominous day.”

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Trainor said he noticed a group of seals, which was “pretty regular,” as he paddled out to catch the next set of waves.

“I did have this weird and uncomfortable feeling,” he said. 

“As I went onto the board and started paddling, almost instantly, I was hit,” he said. “It appeared that it [the shark] came up and pushed my left leg up into the air and latch onto my right leg and board.”

“I was lucky that the board was pinned beneath the lower jaw,” he said.

Trainor, who is now 33, said that prior to being bitten he saw a “large black silhouette” when he was submerged under the water.

“The last thing I remember was looking back at the beach and seeing where my dogs were and, when I came to, I opened my eyes underwater, and I could see the surface of the water, and I could just see this large black silhouette.”

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He said his first thought was that he had been attacked by an aggressive sea lion.

“I could just see this large black silhouette.”

Trainor said he “only felt a sensation on my knee.” 

“It felt like a dog was trying to get into my wetsuit,” he said. “And I managed to give it a few firm kicks.”

“I felt the crunching and I did see stars emanating off the silhouette,” he said.

After kicking the shark, later identified as a great white, the predator released him from its grasp.

After the shark disappeared, Trainor said he used his board to slowly travel back to shore.

“At that time, I wasn’t sure that my wetsuit had even been damaged, it kind of had felt like a large creature just came and jumped on on my leg and pulled me down,” he said. “I had no idea that I was lacerated to the extent that I was.”

Trainor said no one was at the beach, but thankfully, there was a fellow surfer in the parking lot who observed the attack and ran toward the shore.

“I could see him running toward me, and I knew whatever had just happened to me was fairly serious,” he said. “And as I stood on my feet when I got to the sand, I noticed my whole leg was just basically flayed open, and I was shocked that I was still able to walk.”

“I was bleeding a lot, but it was not painful at the time,” he said.

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Trainor said the good Samaritan who met him on the beach grabbed his dog’s leash and tied it to his upper thigh to act like a tourniquet until first responders arrived to rush him to Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna, California.

Trainor said he asked the EMTs if it was a seal attack, and they pointed to his surfboard, which had a large shark bite mark in it.

“I was almost in tears because I was just so beside myself that I had just experienced my worst fear and kind of thought that it was a sea lion,” he said. 

Trainor’s injuries included six lacerations across his inner thigh, a tear in his MCL on his knee, and some bone penetration.

Following his surgery, Trainor began the journey of physical therapy and eventually picked up a surfboard once again.

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“Physical therapy was a hurdle that I had to go through, but I ended up doing well in physical therapy, and I ended up getting into the water to surf about two months after that,” he said.

“It was important to me to kind of overcome whatever sort of PTSD that I was experiencing from the attack,” he said.

The surf lover now hits the waves with a group of friends.

“Istill surf that same beach pretty frequently, but now there’s a group of guys, and we all communicate with each other when we’re going so that we can have a buddy in the water with us,” Trainor said.

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Trainor said he is “grateful” to be alive and for the progress he has made since the attack.

“People have died from this thing, and I was pretty close to losing my own life,” he said. “I feel really grateful that I was able to bounce back from it.”