Nick Wapner

  • Nick Wapner, 19, was surfing with friends off of Montana de Oro State Park on California's Central Coast when he was bit by a shark on Tuesday.
  • He was preparing for an incoming wave when he says the shark swam up from under him and bit his ankle and left thigh.
  • Wapner described the shark to the park ranger supervisor, Robert Colligan, as a 4.5m-long great white with a 5.5m dorsal fin.
  • The teen, a student at California Polytechnic State University, had to get 50 stitches in his legs.

A 19-year-old surfer survived a shark attack off of California's Central Coast on Tuesday morning after kicking the 15-foot great white away as it bet his legs.

Nick Wapner, a student at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, was surfing with friends off the coast of Montana de Oro State Park when the attack occurred, the Tribune of San Luis Obispo reported.

Robert Colligan, the park ranger supervisor, told The Tribune that Wapner described the shark as a 4.5m-long great white with a 5.5m dorsal fin.

A photo of Wapner's board with a visible bite was shared on Instagram by the local surfing organisation Still Frothy.

Wapner said the shark came up from beneath him as he prepared for an incoming wave, and first bit his right ankle before moving up to his left thigh.

"It all happened quickly, but I turned and saw that it had one of my legs in its mouth," Wapner said. "The thing was huge."

Wapner said he kicked his legs until he could free himself from the shark's grasp, and the shark swam away.

After paddling to shore, his friend drove him the hospital where he got 50 stitches.

Read more: Here are the chances of getting bitten by a shark while you're swimming at the beach

"It could have hit an artery or something but it just kind of like got my ankles and my legs a little bit," Wapner told CBS Santa Maria, Calif. affiliate KCOY-TV.

Wapner, who is now at home recovering, believes the shark was biting out of curiosity.

"Between that and the amount of foam and fiberglass that he probably got in his mouth, that probably wasn't too tasty," Wapner told KCOY. "So I think he figured he'd be better off just letting me go."

Wapner, a trained lifeguard and longtime surfer said he'll return to surfing once his wounds heal.

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