HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) --The surfer who was bumped off his board by a shark near Huntington Beach is speaking out about the scary encounter, which forced lifeguards to close the water along Bolsa Chica State Beach on Sunday.
David Charles has been surfing for more than 40 years, but Sunday morning's ride came with a frightening first-time surprise.
"Felt a bump, a pretty good bump, and I looked back, seen the tail kind of thrashing and slapping and I jumped, just reflexes. I landed in the water which was not good," Charles said.
He said the shark, which he described as about 6 feet long, hit him as he was waiting for the next wave.
"I was looking for him to come back. That's what I was doing. I thought he was coming back," he said.
The shark encounter happened in the waters near tower 16 at Bolsa Chica State Beach. Charles was out with a bunch of friends when their peaceful morning took a terrifying turn.
"The two other guys next to me seen it, and they just yelled at me, 'What the heck was that? A dolphin?' 'No, that's not a dolphin. It's a shark. Get out,'" Charles described.
Lifeguards closed the waters for more than a mile along the coast near the sighting for the day to be safe. The closure was lifted Monday morning.
Experts say it likely was a juvenile great white.
"Some of the animals we tagged last summer, we're still detecting along Bolsa Chica. So we know they're still sharks here, just unusual for one to bump a surfer," said Chris Lowe, the director of the CSULB Shark Lab.
Charles says it seemed like the animal may have been going after something else in the water, but he didn't stick around to find out.
While the close encounter may have forced the 54-year-old from the ocean on Sunday, he said it won't stop him from getting back on his board.
"I'll be back in the water as soon as I can. I stayed out today, I wasn't going back today, but next weekend I'll be back," he said.