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 (search) 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 (search) last October.
Clive Mortimer, the station commander of the National Sea Rescue Institute (search), 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."