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Great White Shark That Savaged California Man May Be One of World's Biggest

Newsweek logo Newsweek 6/27/2022 Ed Browne
A stock photo shows a great white shark swimming underwater. One of the species reportedly bit a California swimmer this month. © Whitepointer/Getty A stock photo shows a great white shark swimming underwater. One of the species reportedly bit a California swimmer this month.

A shark responsible for attacking a California swimmer has been estimated to be about 20 feet long based on bite marks on its victim, potentially making it one of the biggest great whites in the world.

Steve Bruemmer, a 62-year-old from Monterey, was attacked while swimming off Lovers Point in the city of Pacific Grove on June 22. The shark had bitten his leg, stomach and arms.

Two paddleboarders and a surfer saved his life when they came to his rescue after hearing his cries for help. Heath Braddock, the surfer, told KRON4: "He was 300 feet out. A lot of tourists cry wolf and cry out 'shark!' It's rarely the case. It's usually a dolphin. But this guy continued to scream frantically. I saw the pool of blood around him so I knew it was real.

"The standup paddleboarders got there 10 seconds before I did. I told them of a plan I had. I asked Paul to help me put the victim on my biggest board. I pulled on his good arm and they lifted the other arm that had been bitten. His leg wound was the most pronounced, his bone was fully showing. Most of the damage was on his stomach the front side."

Together they managed to pull Bruemmer to shore where he received medical attention.

"I was in the ambulance, thinking I don't know if I was going to survive, but at least I could breathe," Bruemmer said in a statement to local news station KION-TV. "Then I don't remember anything for a while."

Bruemmer said that doctors told him he lost "a tremendous amount of blood" but the bites he had suffered had not caused any major injuries. He is expected to make a full recovery.

After the attack, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) carried out forensic examination of the bites and concluded that the shark responsible was a great white.

Bruemmer told Fox 59 that the bite marks were so big experts said the shark could be as big as 20 feet.


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This would make the shark a particularly large individual since 20 feet is cited as the upper length that great whites can reach, according to wildlife charities Oceana and the World Wildlife Fund.

The world's biggest known great white shark is Deep Blue, which is 20 feet long, weighs over 5,500 pounds and is thought to be over 50 years old. At 20ft, the shark that attacked Bruemmer would be one of the world's biggest great whites.

Great white sharks are perhaps the most famous and notorious shark thanks to their role in attacks on people and their large size. The species is credited with more fatal attacks on humans than any other type of shark and has been responsible for 354 unprovoked attacks around the world according to the Florida Museum's International Shark Attack File on June 27.

However, Oceana states that great white shark attacks are "extremely rare" and that their bites typically end up being a single "exploratory bite" after which the animal realizes that the person is not its preferred prey. Because of the shark's large size though, even these bites can be fatal.

Great whites have a wide distribution and can be found off both the U.S. east and west coasts.

When taking all shark species into account, California is the state with the third-highest number of confirmed unprovoked shark attack reports behind Hawaii and Florida, which has seen the most such reports.

This article has been updated to include more information on the attack and the largest great white shark in the world.

Correction 06/29/2022 7.35 a.m. ET: This article has been corrected to say the California Department of Fish and Wildlife did not estimate the shark to be 20 feet long.

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