Shark attack victim punched it in the face before he was rescued, friend says

A man who survived being bitten multiple times by a shark while swimming at a popular California beach on Sunday punched the predator on the nose, before he was rescued by quick-thinking fellow swimmers, an eyewitness has said.

The 46-year-old man was take to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla after suffering bites to his left hand, left arm and his torso around 9 a.m. Sunday, the City of Del Mar, north of San Diego, said in a statement.

The injuries were serious but not life-threatening, the statement said. Nearly the entire stretch of beach was closed after the attack.

The victim is part of a seasoned ocean swimming group that trains weekly. One of the group, Jenna Veal, who was right behind the man in the water during the attack, told NBC’s “TODAY” show Monday that she heard him scream for help.

“He punched it in the face, he punched it in the nose,” she said. “I do know he had a gash on his hand from a shark’s tooth.”

The swimmers quickly began to take the man back to shore, where a passing ER doctor stopped to help.

“There is a massive all-hands-on-deck movement of support today,” Veal said. The man remained conscious throughout, she said, and is expected to be OK.

Pictures shared by Beal show the man, still in his swimming cap, lying in a stretcher and being tended to by paramedics while concerned swimmers look on.

“When we saw the guy like swim back it was really shocking,” another eyewitness told “TODAY.”

Jon Edelbrock, City of Del Mar Lifeguard Chief, told “TODAY” that one of the swimmers was equipped with their own tourniquet, although it’s not clear if this was used.

The attack forced the closure of beaches with a mile, leaving many seasoned local beachgoers shocked. “I have never seen a shark sign or have known of an incident to occur right here,” one told “TODAY.”

The risk of unprovoked shark bites worldwide remains extremely low.

Experts say the best way for swimmers to reduce their risk is to always stay in groups. Use extra caution when in an area near sandbars and steep drop-offs and avoid being in the water during dark or twilight hours.

Unprovoked shark attacks are rare: There were just 36 attacks in the U.S. last year, including two in California, one of them fatal, the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File said.

The beach will remain closed until at least tomorrow.

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