On Saturday, October 29, at approximately 7 a.m., a great white shark attacked 27-year-old local surfer Eric Tarantino at Marina State Beach. The attacks left Tarantino with life-threatening wounds to his neck, shoulder, wrist, and forearm, as well as a 19-inch bite mark through his board.
Witnesses believe Tarantino was lying on his board when the shark struck from beneath him, attacking his neck and engulfing his arm and shoulder. While attempting to free himself, Tarantino pulled his arm from the shark’s mouth, sustaining severe lacerations down the length of his arm in the process.
Tarantino escaped the shark’s grip and miraculously avoided puncturing his jugular vein. On-scene paramedics stabilized Tarantino prior to airlifting him to a San Jose hospital, where today doctors have reported he’s in stable condition.
The attack occurred just two days after the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported the sighting of a 15-foot white shark off Seacliff State Beach, where four years ago fellow local surfer and friend of Tarantino, Todd Endris, was attacked.
“I was at home and saw that the surf was offshore and looked good, so I went over to my phone to call somebody to go surf, and I had all these missed calls. I just knew something had happened,” said Endris. “When I got down to the beach there were 10 state park trucks, photographers, and lots of people freaking out, with some pulling up to check the surf and having no idea what happened.”
Tarantino was attacked 20 feet away from where Endris was attacked in August of 2007, and coincidentally, on the day of the attack, he was planning to attend a medical conference in San Jose on traumatic injuries—focusing especially on shark attack and burn victims. “Ironically, I was already going to San Jose to talk about my attack that afternoon at the same hospital where they airlifted Eric,” said Endris. “After I spoke, we jammed over to the regional medical center and he had just woken from surgery. He was all doped up and a little groggy, but he was coherent.”
Despite having his arm filleted by a great white shark, Endris believes Tarantino will have full movement in his arm again and will be released from the hospital in three or four days.
Local surfers want to know what’s attracting sharks to their beloved beachbreak. “I have to wonder if it’s due to all the dolphin traffic,” said Sean Van Sommeran, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz-based Pelagic Shark Research Foundation. “There are a lot of harbor porpoises and dolphins going by on a daily basis, as well as seals and birds. There are a bunch of bait fish and squid pushing close to shore, so I think the sharks are just there because of all the animal traffic going by.”
While surfers ponder the safety of their local breaks, county residents want to know if the shark spotted on Wednesday afternoon is to blame for Saturday’s attack. Van Sommeran believes it’s a different shark. Due to the large shark population in the Monterey Bay, he says, “It seems completely far-fetched, but in the realm of possibility.”