Shark bites through surfboard off Newport

Shark bites through surfboard off Newport

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by KGW Staff

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kgw.com

Posted on October 21, 2011 at 5:58 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 21 at 4:32 PM

NEWPORT, Ore. -- A surfer had his board bitten through by a great white shark off Newport Thursday afternoon.

Bobby Gumm told friends he was off South Beach about noon. He was with Ronald Clifford and two other friends.

Photos: Surfer's board bitten by shark

Clifford said he had been surfing that beach for six years.

"Today, we all felt something out there," he said, "and I see big sea lions racing past me, and I thought it was a safe thing but it really wasn’t."

He saw that Gumm was pushed up and sent flying out of the water.

“All of a sudden my friend said, 'Help' and it looked like piranha just churning the water," Clifford said, "It just looked like a frenzy, then a two foot fin in the water, and then it lifted my friend 10 feet up into the air and I wanted to help him but it was a frenzy, so we just paddled in and made sure he was okay."

The trip to shore was surreal, Clifford said.

“It felt like eternity, it was in slow motion," he said, "It breaks about two football fields to see, and and it takes about a football field of no waves to get in, and that was the slowest time in my life”

Once on the beach, the four realized about 20 inches of Gumm's board was missing and teeth marks could be seen.

"I was scared for my life," Clifford said, "I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s almost witnessing an almost murder. Here it is my good friend being lifted up. It was the scariest thing, I thought I was going to lose my friend."

Joel Hollander, a Seattle Aquarium biologist told KGW the surfer may have been mistaken for a sea lion.

“They’re sensing their environment," Hollander said, "The only way they’ll know if its friend or foe or food is to taste it. Just like you and I taste food when were cooking, if we like it and we think it’s safe then well go ahead and explore it. If it’s a test bite and tastes like a surfboard then I’m out of of here”

Gumm brought his mangled board into Ocean Pulse Surfboards, where employees took some pictures.

Scuba diver Nathan Armstrong just got out of the water when he heard about the attack. He’s debating on whether he should go back in.

“I kept looking behind me, thinking there was a seal behind me," he said, "There was this eerie feeling the whole time."

KGW Reporter Jacqueline Sit contributed to this report

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