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Surfer who pulled shark bite victim from water in Morro Bay shares story

Shark researcher says Great white shark population is increasing off California coast
fatal shark attack.JPG
Posted at 6:15 PM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 09:37:59-05

New details are emerging after a 31-year-old boogie boarder was killed in an apparent Great white shark attack in Morro Bay on Friday.

“The conditions were really horrible but we were like whatever, let's go play and have some fun,” said Rebecca Frimmer of Morro Bay.

Frimmer was surfing just north of the rock on Friday morning at a spot called The Pit when she noticed a bright blue boogie board floating in the water.

“As the wave broke and the tide was pushing the board further in, it was snapping back and so I thought there was something attached to it. My hope was that if somebody was drowning I could help them or if it was trash I could just pull it out of the water,” Frimmer explained.

Frimmer says she grabbed the board and started pulling it to shore.

“I paddled and I pulled until I could put my feet down and then I was able to pull the board closer to me and I saw his feet and flippers and began to pull him in, thinking I might do CPR on top of my board but it was clear that it was way too late once I saw the extent of his injuries and he had already passed,” Frimmer said.

She says she flagged down the first people she saw to call 911.

The water was closed for 24 hours to all surfers and swimmers but the harbor director says the signs to enter the water at your own risk will remain through the weekend.

“Just out of an abundance of caution,” said Eric Endersby, Morro Bay Harbor Director.

Endersby says the boogie boarder was wearing fins and a full wetsuit when he was attacked by what’s believed to be a Great white shark.

“This time of year really the only species that can tolerate those water temperatures and can cause that kind of damage are white sharks,” said Dr. Chris Lowe, Cal State Long Beach Professor of Marine Biology and Director of the Shark Lab.

It’s a population that experts say is increasing off the California Coast.

“We're starting to see more northern elephant sea rookeries down on the southern part of the Central California Coast so therefore that's a new hunting area for adult white sharks,” Dr. Lowe said.

Dr. Lowe says despite more white sharks and more people in the ocean, we’re not seeing an increase in bites.

“We do have to remind people how rare it really is,” Dr. Lowe added.

The last deadly shark attack in San Luis Obispo County was in Avila Beach back in 2003.

“We're all shocked and saddened with the whole incident. Our hearts go out to the victim's family and friends,” Endersby said.

“My hope is that any surfer out there would have done the same thing, that we're out there looking out for each other,” Frimmer concluded.

The boogie boarder’s identity has not yet been released by the coroner’s office.

A Cal Poly student was bitten by a Great white shark in 2019 at Sandspit Beach at Montana de Oro. In 2015, a surfer was at Morro Strand State Beach when a shark took a bite out of her board. The year before that, another surfer was near Sandspit when he was bitten as well.