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Shark-bit surfboard closes beaches 

The waves were small and the sun was shining last Sunday when Ben Ikola was surfing near the Pismo pier.

After what he described as an especially good ride, the 16-year-old high school student from Orcutt was paddling back to where the waves were breaking and felt something strange — like a piece of seaweed or if his leash were tangled in the fins of his 7-foot-4 board. Then something brushed against Ikola’s leg and flipped him into the water.

“I came out of the water and the whole back of [the shark], the fin and everything, went right by my face,� he said.

“And I just started kicking at it. I kicked it maybe one or two times.�

Ikola’s cousin, 14-year-old John Ikola, was boogie boarding nearby and assumed the fin belonged to a seal. But after Ben climbed back on his board and the two boys paddled in to the beach, they found the damage to the surfboard.

“I was just freaking out,� Ben said. “Me and my cousin just looked at each other and [started] yelling, ‘Shark’!�

After the attack, county officials posted warnings along the South County’s beaches. Those warnings will be taken down on Oct. 7.

As for the damaged surfboard, Pismo Beach police officials are holding on to it. They took casts of the toothy indentations and are sending them to a shark expert at CSU Monterey Bay in hopes of finding out what kind of shark did the biting. As of press time, police officials didn’t know how long that confirmation would take.

In August of 2003, a great white shark killed a Nipomo woman in the waters off of Avila Beach. This year, wildlife officials say that several sea lions have been attacked in the same area.

Ben Ikola said he plans on getting back in the water, with his parents’ support. But that doesn’t mean he’s over the attack just yet.

“I act cool about it during the day, but I’m still pretty shook up about it. My bud Robby’s there for me,� he said. ³


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