Shark! How One Surfer Survived an Attack

When a two-ton predator caught surfer Todd Endris in its jaws, an unlikely group of swimmers came to his rescue.

By Cathy Free from Reader's Digest | July 2008

Despite the warnings, Endris routinely surfed in such waters. From the time he was a toddler in San Jose, he’d looked forward to weekend excursions to the beach with his parents and older sister, Julie. As soon as he was big enough to straddle a board, he took up surfing. More than once over the years, he’d been called out of the water when someone thought they’d seen a shark. “But it wasn’t something I dwelled on,” Endris says. “As a surfer, if you did that, you’d never go into the ocean.”

In Monterey Bay that August morning, the great white dragged Endris below the surface. Attempting to force the shark to release him, the surfer slugged it on the snout over and over. “It was like punching a Chevy Suburban covered with sandpaper,” he says. “I was getting nowhere.”

The 16-foot shark had clamped down on his back with three rows of razor-sharp teeth. Endris felt no pain, only a tremendous pressure as the shark dipped him beneath the roiling water and shook him back and forth in its powerful jaws.

A few feet away, Joe Jansen, a 25-year-old college student from Marina, was relaxing on his board when he heard a loud splash. Glancing over his shoulder, he spotted a gray creature rising 12 feet out of the water with Endris and a blue surfboard in its mouth. At first, Jansen thought the creature was a whale, “the biggest thing I’d ever seen.” Then he heard Endris scream. “My immediate thought was to get the hell out of there,” he says.
He paddled as fast as he could toward shore, looking back every few seconds. When he made eye contact with Endris, he paused. “Help me!” yelled Endris, disappearing beneath the water again. The shark now had the surfer by the right thigh and appeared to be trying to swallow his leg whole.

Another 20 feet beyond the chaos, Wes Williams, a 33-year-old Cambria bar owner, stared from his surfboard in disbelief. Six bottlenose dolphins were leaping in and out of the water, stirring up whitecaps. When Williams saw Endris surface, he believed the dolphins were attacking him. “He was shouting like he was being electrocuted,” he says. “I thought, What did this guy do to piss off the dolphins?”

Williams watched as the dolphin pod circled Endris, slapping their flukes in agitation. It was then that he saw the bright red ring of Endris’s blood staining the water.

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