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Swimmer bitten by great white shark trying to escape fish hook off Calif. beach

Posted at 2:26 PM, Jul 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-06 14:28:07-04

A long-distance swimmer was attacked by a great white shark near the pier in Manhattan Beach, California, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

A fisherman on the pier had hooked the 7-foot shark Saturday and was trying to reel in the struggling fish when the victim swam by, LAFD spokesman Rick Flores said. “It was agitated and when the swimmer got close, it bit him,” Flores told CNN.

The victim was part of a group of swimmers training in the waters near the pier. They did not see the shark until it was too late.

The victim was bit in the torso, sustaining a wound Flores described as “moderate.”

“The shark bit the swimmer and then released,” he said.

The 40-year-old man is still in the hospital, Flores said Saturday evening.

Bystanders captured the aftermath of the attack on cell phone video. CNN affiliate KTLA posted the video on its website. It shows a group of swimmers frantically trying to reach shore with the victim screaming loudly from the water and people on the pier urging him to hurry, yelling that the shark was still close by.

A Manhattan Beach shark attack was recounted by witnesses and a fisherman involved in the incident. Sara Welch reports for the KTLA 5 News at 11 p.m. on Saturday, July 5, 2014.

All of the swimmers in the water made it to shore safely.

The victim was treated by paramedics at the scene, then transported to a local hospital, according to LAFD’s Twitter feed. “The male shark bit victim is reported to be in stable condition,” a tweet from the lifeguard division said.

The fisherman had struggled to reel in the great white for up to 40 minutes before the attack happened. Then he cut the line and the shark swam away, Flores said.

Police closed down the Manhattan Beach Pier after the incident. It will remain closed until Tuesday, according to a press release.

Shark attacks are still pretty rare, but have increased at a steady rate since 1900, “with each decade having more attacks than the previous,” according to statistics from the International Shark Attack File based in Gainesville, Florida.

ISAF says on its website that in 2013 there were 72 unprovoked shark attacks on humans, actually the lowest number of global attacks since 2009, when 67 attacks occurred.

The research organization emphasized on its website that an increasing number of shark attacks doesn’t mean the rate of attacks is increasing. ISAF research shows people are spending more time at sea, which increases the interactions between humans and sharks.