PACIFIC GROVE — A great white shark that attacked and nearly killed a swimmer last month in Monterey Bay had “an estimated minimum length” of 14 to 15 feet long, state wildlife officials have concluded.
That size – roughly the length of a Toyota 4Runner – is typical of an adult white shark, experts said Monday. The shark bit Steve Bruemmer, 62, of Monterey, at 10:35 a.m. on June 22 while swimming about 150 yards off Lovers Point, a popular beach in Pacific Grove.
Bruemmer was released from hospital last week after being treated for severe lacerations to his legs and torso.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists, working with Cal State Long Beach marine biologist Chris Lowe, estimated the shark’s size based on bite sizes on Bruemmer’s suit, along with photos of his injuries and a description. he provided in conversations with them, Lowe said Monday.
He noted that authorities searched for the shark after the attack, but had no luck.
“They had drones, they had people in the water, but nothing was spotted,” he said. “It could be anywhere.”
White sharks off California routinely travel hundreds of miles across the Pacific Ocean. Lowe said this one is unlikely to bite anyone else.
“The odds are very low,” he said. “We just don’t see that. People should continue to use the ocean. Realize that the sharks are still there. Understand that these events are truly rare.
The statistics confirm it. Since 1950, when modern records began, 15 people have died in California from shark attacks, most by great whites, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Millions of people go into the water each year to surf, swim, paddle board, spear fish and snorkel, making the risk of attack extremely low, experts say.
In May 2020, surfer Ben Kelly, 26, of Santa Cruz, was killed in a shark attack about 100 yards from Manresa State Beach in Aptos. Kelly bled to death after a great white shark bit him behind his right knee, hitting an artery. An investigation by state wildlife biologists found the shark to be at least 10 feet long.
During the Pacific Grove attack, Bruemmer, who regularly swims in the ocean with a swim club, said he was enjoying the day when suddenly his life changed.
“I was just gliding through the water looking at sea grasses and starfish,” he said in a video released last Thursday by the Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, the day he was well enough to return home. him after hospital treatment. “I was about 150 yards from the end near the beach when – just wham! I don’t even know exactly what happened, but it turns out that I was bitten fiercely by a shark across my thighs and abdomen.
“He grabbed me and pulled me up, then dunked me in the water,” added Bruemmer, a retired computer specialist from Monterey Peninsula College. “So of course he spat me out. I am not a seal. He is looking for a seal. We are not their food. He spit me out and he was looking at me, right next to me. I thought he might bite me again so I pushed him with my hand and kicked him with my foot and he walked away. I came to the surface and started screaming for help.
Moments after Bruemmer was attacked, bleeding badly and screaming for help, several nearby people rushed to his aid, including Aimee Johns, a Folsom nurse, and her husband, Paul Bandy, a Sacramento police officer in leave, who were paddle boarding in the area as part of a trip to celebrate their wedding anniversary. A nearby surfer, Heath Braddock, also came to help.
They put Bruemmer on two boards, took him to the beach and applied tourniquets. He was rushed to hospital, where he underwent a two-hour operation that used 28 units of blood. He was lucky the bites didn’t sever an artery, which would have been fatal, doctors said.
Since then, Bruemmer has had nothing but praise for his rescuers.
“How can you walk into bloody water with maybe a shark spinning under you to save a stranger?” he said. “They are amazing.”