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Surfer fights great white to free leg from jaws

5/31/2006

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — A British surfer attacked by a
great white shark described Wednesday how he kicked and lashed out
wildly to free his leg from the shark's jaws, which sliced his
flesh "like a knife through butter."

Chris Sullivan was surfing with friends Monday when the 13-foot
shark attacked.

"It came up slow and I saw its eyes and it looked really dark
gray," said Sullivan, sitting in a wheelchair at a clinic. "I
turned and I saw the underneath of its belly. Then I saw its mouth.
Then it grabbed hold of my leg."

"I started lashing out, hitting it. I think I kicked it. I
pulled the leg out. It felt like a knife through butter and I
thought 'oops,"' said the school teacher who has traveled the
world in pursuit of his surfing passion.

Sullivan, 32, said he managed to stay on his surf board and
catch a wave back to shore, where a local veterinary surgeon who
had also been surfing applied an emergency tourniquet to his leg.

Sullivan needed 200 stitches in his calf.

The attack at Nordhoek on a stunning stretch of beach about 12
miles from Cape Town occurred at the same point where a bodyboarder
was killed 18 months ago.

A great white bit off the leg of a teenage surfer one year ago
nearby, and a 77-year-old swimmer was eaten by a great white in
nearby Fish Hoek last October.

Clive Mortimer, the station commander of the National Sea Rescue
Institute, said Sullivan was "extremely lucky," to have escaped
alive.

Sullivan dismissed suggestions that sharks deemed to be a threat
should be culled.

"I haven't got a problem with the shark," he said. "I was in
its water and I was stupid enough to go surfing where there was a
lot of sharks."