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Shark Takes A Bite Out Of A Surfer's Board In Close Call

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A surfer is counting her blessings after a great white shark took a big bite out of her surfboard.

Elinor Dempsey was waiting for a wave off Morro Strand State Beach, on California's Central Coast, on Saturday morning around 10:15 a.m. when the shark came up underneath her. "First I thought it was a dolphin and I thought, 'What the hell is he doing?'" she told the San Luis Obispo Tribune. "And he kind of landed on my board. Then I realized he had taken a chunk. And I was, like, 'That's not what dolphins do.'"

Other surfers saw Dempsey fall into the water and alerted everyone to get out of the water. Park rangers happened to be on the beach as the surfers were clearing the water, and posted signs closing the beach for 72 hours after the incident. On the beach, the bite was measured 13-1/2 inches wide and 8 inches deep. Dempsey says the shark was about 7 to 8 feet long, making it a juvenile great white, according to U.S. Fish & Wildlife biologist Michael Harris, who was also at the beach. Harris says sharks typically make an "investigative" bite before deciding to go in for a kill, which is probably what this bite was.

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In December, a surfer was bitten by a shark off Montaña de Oro State Beach, just a few miles down the coast from Morro Strand. On Saturday, beaches in La Jolla were closed after a video captured by kayakers showed what authorities said was "aggressive" behavior by a hammerhead shark. Beaches have since reopened in La Jolla.

Dempsey is taking the whole incident in stride. She jokes she might sell the board "to the highest bidder" and that yesterday's surfing was totally fruitless. "And I didn’t get a wave, she said. "That's the worst part—I got no waves."