PACIFIC GROVE — A shark bit a man swimming in the ocean off of Lovers Point shortly before 11 a.m. Wednesday morning. His condition is unknown.
Emergency responders were called at 10:39 a.m. and on the scene by 10:47 a.m. The victim was transported by ambulance to Natividad hospital.
Salinas resident Fernando Beltran was taking a break from biking at Lovers Point Park when he saw a “tussling” in the water. He thought it was two swimmers playfully wrestling until he saw the dorsal fin.
“I realized (it was a shark) when I saw the dorsal fin,” Beltran said. “I was in shock for a minute, thinking, ‘Oh that can’t be a shark.’ I thought it was two guys wrestling.”
Beltran said he saw the swimmer go underwater for around 10 to 15 seconds. When the swimmer resurfaced, he began calling for help. Beltran said he called 911 and a group of four or five civilian paddleboarders rushed out to get the swimmer on a board and out of the water.
Beltran said the swimmer was conscious and bleeding from his left leg when he last saw him being transported to the hospital by emergency responders.
Pacific Grove Police Chief Cathy Madalone did not respond to The Herald’s requests for comment. In a news release, the department said the city will follow State Parks protocol, meaning the beach at Lovers Point and Sea Palm turnout are closed and will remain closed until Saturday.
Ben Harvey, city manager of Pacific Grove, confirmed that the shark was seen again in the area after the attack. He said the swimmer’s condition is still unknown but reported to be severe. His injuries included a bite to the stomach, arm and leg.
The release provided no further details on the injuries of the victim, other than considering them “significant.” Monterey County spokesperson Maia Carroll said in an email that Natividad hospital doesn’t confirm anything about trauma patients, per hospital policy. The hospital is owned by Monterey County.
Monterey Fire Chief Gaudenz Panholzer said early Wednesday afternoon that the fire department is still getting information about the attack and the Pacific Grove Police Department took the lead on the incident. The Monterey Fire Department provides service in the cities of Pacific Grove, Carmel and Sand City as well as Monterey.
“It’s not unheard of, but shark bites are pretty unusual,” Panholzer said of the attack. “It’s not a frequent occurrence.”
According to Panholzer, the Seaside Fire Department provided a drone, which is being used to identify the shark and its location. He said he’s unsure of what will happen after the shark is identified.
Pacific Grove police said there had been no additional sightings as of the time of the release, which was received by The Herald at 1:28 p.m. The release stated the area will continue to be monitored while the beach is closed.
The Monterey Fire Department and Pacific Grove Police Department said they are working with State Parks officials, the U.S. Coast Guard, Monterey’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Hopkins Marine Station in response to the incident.
“We want to express our gratitude and appreciation to the Good Samaritans that took immediate action and personal risk to assist the swimmer,” the release from the Pacific Grove Police Department stated. “We thank our partners at the US Coast Guard and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. In addition, we thank our CERT team members who responded to help with the beach closures to keep the community safe.
“We send our prayers and thoughts to the swimmer and their family.”
This story is still developing.
Contributed by local news sources