Quick thinking by an off-duty lifeguard helped a man attacked by a shark near Seaside on Sunday afternoon.
The adult man was in the water at Seaside Cove when he was bitten in the lower leg. Seaside spokesman Jon Rahl said bystanders pulled him out. An off-duty lifeguard used a surfboard leash — the cord that keeps surfers from losing their boards when they fall — to tourniquet the surfer’s wound.
“First responders are saying that was pretty instrumental,” Rahl said.
The surfer was in stable condition when he was taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria.
Rahl said the incident serves as a reminder not to surf or swim alone in the Pacific Ocean. He said shark bites are not common, but they do happen: Rahl found notes in city archives to a similar incident in Dec. 2011.
But there’s nothing special about shark bites and December, said Chris Havel with the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation.
“Because injuries are so rare, I think it would be hard to draw a pattern out of it,” he said. “And the fact that our two other sightings this year, one was in March, the other was in July, shows you that sharks are just a regular part of this magnificent wild area that we call the Oregon Coast.”
Havel said sharks are in the water year-round. When they do bite humans, it’s usually a case of mistaken identity.
“Something like a surfboard mimics the outline, the speed and just overall behavior of something like a seal or a small sea lion, which is natural food for a shark,” he said. “You may get a probe where a shark mistakenly bites something like a surfboard and accidentally injures a surfer in the process, and that’s most likely why we don’t see this as a real common event.”
The state parks department will put up a sign in the area to warn swimmers about the potential for shark encounters.