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Great White Escapes Fisherman, Mauls Swimmer

Saturday, July 05, 2014
A long distance swimmer off the coast of Southern California was attacked today by a great white shark that was fighting to free itself from a fisherman's line.

The attack happened at approximately 9:30 a.m. near the popular Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles. According to officials, a fisherman on a pier hooked a 7-foot great white shark and spent around 30 to 40 minutes trying to bring the large fish in.

"The great white was pulling away, so he kept letting line out," said Rick Flores, with Los Angeles County Fire Department's Lifeguard Division.

As the swimmer, part of a long distance swimming group, approached the area where the shark was struggling he was bitten on his upper right torso as the shark bit through the fishing line.

"A group of long-distance swimmers coming by -- the shark just got agitated and bit one of the swimmers," Flores said.

The shark managed to escape the fishing line and swim away from shore after the attack.

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The swimmer, whose name was not released, was immediately treated by paramedics and taken to a local hospital. His condition was listed first listed as stable according to the Los Angeles County Fire and Lifeguard Division's Twitter account.

According to LA County Fire officials, the man had a "moderate" bite wound to his chest and was breathing on his own.

His condition was later upgraded to fair, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center spokesman Phil Rocha said.

Surfer Aram Ozen told the Los Angeles Times he was surfing near the swimmer when he heard people start to scream, "White, white!"

"It was a scary scream," Ozen told the Times. "It was kind of freaky. There was a lot people screaming back to shore."

Another surfer told ABC News fishermen had drawn sharks to the area, but said he often sees them there.

"I was surfing by the pier and basically watching some guys chumming off the pier, that attracted sharks and they were fishing for sharks," he said.

"Three or four days ago I saw one jump out of water, trying to catch its prey," he said. "I see them all the time but I don't worry about them."

Flores agreed that great whites have become extremely common off Manhattan Beach.

"There's a sighting almost on a daily basis out here," he said Flores.

A near two-mile stretch of water from Manhattan Beach to Hermosa Beach was closed for at least three hours as helicopters and lifeguard boats searched for the shark.

California State Long Beach professor Chris Lowe said there has been an increase in the number of great whites in local waters, but there are a lot of potential dangers in the ocean, so people should be careful.

"People need to be smart when they go to the beach and be aware of all the hazards, rip tides, sting rays, pollution, all sorts of things," Lowe said. "Sharks are just one of the things we have to be aware of when we go in the ocean."

One way to stay safer from sharks is to avoid the kinds of beaches they like, he said.

"Areas that are heavily populated, where there's a lot of people around, sharks tend to avoid those areas and those are good places to swim," he said.

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