Oregon surfer survives great white shark attack by punching gills

Joe Tanner was left with 26-inch bite wound on his leg


Oregon surfer survives great white shark attack by punching gills

An Oregon surfer has spoken publicly about how he punched a great white shark's gills to survive an attack.

Joe Tanner, 29, a certified critical care nurse, was attacked on 10 October at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach.

See also: Shark eats cow in the middle of the Indian Ocean

See also: Fisherman fends off great white shark with broom

He had gone back out to catch a second set of waves when the shark attacked from underneath him.

Speaking to KTVB, he said: "I think I was propped up off my board. All of a sudden, something grabbed me from below."

Tanner quickly tried to defend himself and thought he might die.

He explained: "I couldn't reach the nose, there was no way I was going to find an eye so I just had gills in front of me, and I just figured those are pretty sensitive, so I just started to go to town on him."

The shark released him and he managed to paddle his way back to shore.

According to Global News, friends later told him he paddled about 200 yards in a terrifying five-minute ordeal, before catching a wave and riding it in for the last 40 yards.

Tanner told the site: "I just paddled my life away. That was probably the scariest moment, trying to get back to the shore and leaving a trail of blood. I couldn't lift up my arms anymore and I just rolled off my board in six inches of water and people came from all over."

He was taken to hospital, where extensive injuries to his leg were treated. He says he lucky he didn't lose it or that a major artery wasn't hit.

Tanner said: "My whole leg was in its mouth. My uncle took a tape measure and it's a 26-inch wide mouth."

Oregon surfer survives great white shark attack by punching gills

As for surfing again? He said: "I've thought about it a lot, and surfing is a meditation for me, so I'll be back out there for sure. It'll probably be a little different for awhile. I'll have a lot of people to go with me."

Tanner says he is speaking out about the attack to warn other surfers to be prepared.

He advised carrying tourniquets in surf bags, wearing a super-thick wetsuit, and to remember that autumn/winter is shark season in Portland as they come into feed on the seals and sea lions in the area who are enjoying the salmon runs.

Tanner is expected to make a good recovery.

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