Shark Attacks Surfer, Who Survives After Kicking Shark's Head

“Grateful to be alive”

A surfer survived a horrifying shark attack by fighting back against the predator and considers himself lucky to be alive. Jared Trainor, 31, was surfing near Centerville Beach, California, when a shark clamped down on his leg and refused to let go. Trainor kept his head and fought back by kicking the shark repeatedly in the head, in an incident he says occurred so suddenly he didn't even realize it was a shark attacking him. Here's how he describes what happened, and if he will ever surf again.

Seal Beach


Trainor felt something wasn't quite right even before he got into the water. An experienced surfer, the farm technician was well aware of potential warning signs. "It did seem like there might be a little more seals than normal," Trainor told Times-Standard. "They were hanging out in the whitewash, which is pretty common for them anyways."

Dangling Limbs


Trainor paddled out and waited for the perfect wave, and remembered advice from a video about safety in the water. "It's a quote from a surf video I watched recently," Trainor says. "They talked about minimizing your limbs hanging in the water." It was at that moment Trainor found himself underwater. "I don't remember the initial contact. It kind of happened so quickly."

"Coffin Style"


The shark had knocked Trainor back onto the surfboard, and had both him and the board in its jaws. "Coffin style," Trainor says. "Its lower jaws had the board and its upper jaws had my leg." It's likely the board saved Trainor's life, and it prevented the shark's bite from causing further damage. Trainor was still not entirely sure what was happening at the moment.

The Shark Gives Up

shark fin in the water
Shutterstock / By Evdokimov Maxim

Four feet under water, Trainor realized what was happening to him and fought back against the shark, grabbing its body with his right hand and repeatedly kicking it with his left leg. The shark finally gave up and swam away, and Trainor paddled back to shore, where another surfer was waiting. "He met me at the shoreline," Trainor says. "He was like, 'did that thing get you?'"

Grateful To Be Alive

four sharks swimming underwater

Trainor ended up with 19-inch bite wounds, the size of the shark's mouth. "I probably will think twice before surfing by myself," he says. "Some of these locations that have a little bit more sea life are more remote. I haven't actually told my son directly that this happened. Because I hope that he's not going to lose interest in the sport. I'm grateful to be alive. And I love surfing so much that I'm hoping this brings a newfound appreciation."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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