NEWPORT, Ore. (KOIN) — A great white shark likely attacked a surfer off the coast not far from Cannon Beach, a scientist at Oregon Coast Aquarium said Tuesday.
Joseph Tanner was surfing with friends late Monday afternoon when he was attacked. The 29-year-old, is a critical care nurse at Legacy Emanuel, is currently at that hospital being treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries to his leg.
Oregon State Police said Tanner was with two other surfers (both from Portland) at the time of the attack. They had been in the water for about 15 minutes when the shark attack took place.
The first surfer told police Tanner started to flail around before he got back on his surfboard and screamed at the other 2 to get out of the water. The 3 paddled back to shore, approximately 30-40 yards away.
Once back on shore, Tanner instructed others nearby on how to tie a tourniquet around his leg. They used the leash of Tanner’s surfboard and square knots for the tourniquet, Oregon State Police said. The shark attack victim was then carried on his surfboard by 6 people to a nearby parking lot where they waited for an ambulance.
The second surfer told police he was 10 feet away from Tanner when the attack occurred. He said Tanner slipped off his board, and that was when he noticed the shark’s large dorsal fin. The surfer said it was grey about 8 feet long.
Jim Burke with the Oregon Coast Aquarium told KOIN 6 News great white sharks on the coast near the Oregon shoreline are generally between 10 and 12 feet long.
Shark attacks along the Oregon coast aren’t common but they do happen. Data shows they happen about 3-4 times every 10 years. Most of the attacks, experts said, are a case of sharks mistaking a person for a sea lion.
And this is the time of year when there is a bigger population of sea lions. Attacks most often occur at dawn and dusk.
“Salmon migration is from beginning of September, August through October,” Burke said. “There’s a little bit more attraction at that time. These sharks frequent our waters all year but there’s a bit more concentration and the sightings are a little bit elevated during that time.”
The beaches are not closed, but shark warning signs have been posted.
Witnesses told KOIN 6 News several other people in the area got Tanner back to shore and carried him up from the beach to the parking lot where they started treating his wounds.
“Joe stayed conscious the whole time was able to ask questions. Gave us his blood type, his phone number,” witness Jeffrey Rose said.
KOIN learned that Tanner is a nurse and was able to tell his rescuers what to do.
“He was directing them, telling them how to fix him and they were putting a tourniquet on him with the leash,” Rose said.
KOIN 6 News will have more information later in the day.