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12/10/2006 Royce Frailey (California)

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12/10/2006 Royce Frailey (California)

Post by sharkbait »

A 43-year-old surfer survived a white shark attack Sunday with only minimal wounds after the predator bit through his surfboard and dragged him undersea momentarily.

The surfer, Royce Frailey from Guerneville, was attacked around 11:50 a.m. while surfing with some friends off Dillon Beach in northwest Marin County, according to Marin County fire Capt. Rick Wonneberger.

"He is very lucky to be alive," Wonneberger said.

Signs warning other surfers of the attack are supposed to be posted sometime Monday, NBC11 reported.

There is also a high surf warning for the area through 6 p.m. Monday.

Frailey was paddling facedown when he felt a surge of water and then a bite in his right hip and thigh, the fire captain said. The shark dragged him underneath the waves to a depth of 15 feet before releasing him, Wonneberger said.

Gregg Schnitzer took pictures of Frailey's surfboard as well as the treatment he was given following the attack.

Gregg Schnitzer

A friend who was surfing 10 feet away from the victim said it was a white shark, common to the area, measuring between 12 and 15 feet.

Rescuers treated and released the surfer at the scene because his wounds were superficial, Wonneberger said. Only the surfboard's bottom had bite marks in it. The shark's teeth must have penetrated the surfboard to reach the surfer, the captain said.

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Post by sharkbait »

Surfer survives two separate shark attacks
- Jim Doyle, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, December 23, 2006

(12-23) 14:11 PST GUERNEVILLE -- Royce Fraley has surfed the unforgiving, storm-swelled waves of Northern California for three decades, and also -- by chance -- explored the hunting habits and appetites of great white sharks.

But this holiday season he's spending time ashore in Guerneville with his wife and their two young children. He hasn't been surfing since his latest brush with fate. Two weeks ago, he became one of the world's few surfers to have survived two separate shark attacks -- the latest incident involving a shark that pulled him at least 15 feet below the surface.

"I'm not chomping at the bit to get back into the water," Fraley, 43, told The Chronicle. "I had an offer to go surfing with a buddy last Sunday, and I declined. I'm definitely taking a break and enjoying my family ... If my feet were dangling down, I might not even have a leg or be here today. It's made me more respectful of my life and my family."

Mid-morning on Dec. 10, the die-hard surfer had paddled out alone to join a handful of buddies at a favorite spot near Dillon Beach, taking his place in the lineup about a half-mile offshore.

He quickly caught two waves, each 10 to 12 feet tall, then got steamrolled by two larger whitewaters. Fraley, a counselor for youth in Sonoma County, had worked the graveyard shift that day. He was recuperating from a head cold, and soon out of breath.

"People have to understand that the waves that we're surfing out here are double black diamond," he said. "This is serious s -- . You've prepared your whole life to put yourself into these situations, not only physically but mentally -- and that's just the wave ...

"This is basically like going into the Coliseum and doing a Sunday game except that you don't have any audience other than your friends," he said. "It's not like we're splashing around on some kind of beach break. We're surfing challenging waves ... This wave is the crown jewel of this area."

The surfers were dispersed, the nearest some 20 yards away.

"I was lying on my board, getting my heart rate to subside," Fraley said. "All of sudden I felt this surge of water, like a lot of water being pushed up to my right side, almost directly under my board. In the next split second, the shark emerged with jaws open, trying to bite at the center of my board ... I let out this scream-slash yell, "Motherf -- !" to let people know I was being attacked. It was full-survival mode... I was thinking, No, me again. No!"

As the shark began to submerge, he said, its lower jaw had already buried itself in the bottom of his surfboard and momentarily lifted it, which caused Fraley's hip to roll off the board.

"If I hadn't rolled off, his jaws would have gone right through my hip... my femoral artery. Being that far off the beach, I wouldn't have had a chance," he said. "Instead, those teeth only just barely went through my wetsuit and left only four teeth marks that did not require stitches."

But the next instant, Fraley was pulled under the surface.

"All I know is, one second he bit me, and the next second I'm going under water," he said. "I felt a slight sting in my hip. I just assumed he had the board and me, so I thought the best thing to do to save my life was to hang onto my board because it is so buoyant. I thought, if he takes me down, he's going to have to let go because of the board's buoyancy.

"As I'm going down, I'm literally thinking about my kids and my family," he said. "I've been tumbled 100 yards by one whitewater and held on. I just thought I could ride this out and tried to remain positive. As I was going down, it felt like a high rate of speed ... On two occasions, my body bounced off the side of the shark. Then all of a sudden I was released and I just flew back to the top.

"Lewis (Samuels), the first guy I paddled over to, said I was gone for five seconds," Fraley said. "Soon as I came back up to the top, I just started paddling like there was no tomorrow over to him. I basically paddled on top of his surfboard."

Britt Horn, a state ranger who's also a surfer and trained lifesaver, paddled over and took control of the situation. "He asked me how I felt," Fraley said. "He slowed down my breathing. He calmed me down. Lewis got on one side, Britt on the other ... Paddling in, I started getting a sense that I was pretty damn lucky that I was OK. Britt was constantly analyzing ... He was saying, 'I don't see any blood, but we're not going to strip you down until we get you back into the car.' "

With Horn supporting his arm, Fraley walked roughly a half-mile to Horn's truck. Peeling off his new wetsuit, they saw that the shark had left little marks on his hip.

At 6-foot-3 and 160 pounds, Fraley has long, skinny legs. He's so lean that surfers call him The Stork. "One of my buddies said, 'Yeah man, I think you being so skinny paid off.' Maybe it's true," Fraley said.

Paramedics and sheriff's deputies showed up, but Fraley chose to drive himself to Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol, where he was given antibiotics to ward off infection. He called his wife, Shannen, who works for Sonoma County as a health information specialist, to tell her what had happened.

"I went out and got some Mexican food and a couple of beers and met with my family," he said.

It's taken Fraley some time to digest what happened to him.

"You're dealing with so much adrenaline," he said. "I just stuck my surfboard down in the garage for a couple of days. I didn't even look at it... It really rattled me. I started thinking, 'How did I go that deep and fast without his jaws setting into my board?' "

Examining his 7-foot, 6-inch long surfboard, he found teeth marks on the bottom of the board near the center, midway along its length, as well as four teeth marks on the rail of the surfboard -- the same teeth that grazed his hip.

"Where there were teeth marks, there was quite a bit of blood from the shark that was embedded into the foam of the board," he said. "It's like a test bite. (The shark) must have taken an immediate dive to protect itself. It was swimming to get out of there, not swimming to take me down."

He also examined his board's 10-foot-long polyurethane leash, a safety device attached to the tail of his board and his right leg. On close inspection, he found a foot-long portion of the leash that looked like it had been roughed up with coarse sandpaper.

"The shark bit into my board. He did not like what happened, and swam to the left and down, right through the hoop of my leash," Fraley said. "It must have wrapped around his lower fins, dorsal, and maybe the tail. He got caught up in my leash."

Fraley grew up in the Spanish Bay area of Pebble Beach (Monterey County) and began surfing in 1977 when he was 13. His father, George Fraley, a professional diver for the canneries, documented in the 1950s a shark attack involving a body surfer at a Pacific Grove beach.

"My family has always been very outdoorsy. I was brought up hiking, skiing, swimming, water polo," he said. "I was in competitive cycling for eight years. With my father, I was doing 100-mile rides at about 11 years old ... I developed this inner will to not give up."

Fraley said he began surfing as a rebellious teenager who was drawn to the counterculture, but soon found that it helped restore him. He had been hospitalized three times for asthma as a kid.

"The salt water was healing me, along with the physical activity," he said. "I found myself year after year getting stronger and not having to rely on meds to keep healthy. It took me a long time to get the kind of resiliency I've had in my body."

In the last three decades, Fraley surfed in the South Pacific in Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand, and in Indonesia, Ireland and the Canary Islands.

"Surfing has just so many variables to it," he said. "It's not just about getting waves, it's the camaraderie as well ... It teaches you about yourself. The more you push yourself into larger surf, sometimes you get into situations and learn that you can survive them, and try to draw those lessons into your other life as well."

He's also had close scrapes.

In September 1997, Fraley was surfing with two other friends near the Russian River -- lying on his board between waves when a shark attacked the board.

"I got torpedoed, just rammed really hard and knocked clean out of the water," he said. "The sound was incredible. After I came back down, friends said they could see just whitewater and splashing. It was just complete commotion ... The shark's nose had dented my board, leaving a grayish color imbedded in the fiberglass."

He said it would be a mistake to view him as a macho warrior.

"From my two experiences I've learned that things happen so fast," he said. "It's more surreal that anything you can possibly imagine. You're at its complete mercy. If you happen to come out of it, you're just lucky."

Fraley owns 20 surfboards -- and is not quite ready to sell them.

"We're talking about major addiction stuff here," he said. "It would be hard to give up, but at the same time I'm not in any particular rush."

Three days after the attack, Fraley's wife remarked that she had never seen him so content.

"It made me realize that maybe I've put too much emphasis on surfing to make me feel grounded," he said, looking after his 5-year-old daughter, Alana, and his 1-year-old son, Aiden. "Maybe I should put more emphasis on what's in front of me, my family.

"Surfers are selfish. It's taken me a while to accept that I'm a dad and I have certain responsibilities. Part of this was a wake-up, to know that my happiness doesn't depend on whether I've had a good surf session," he said. "That's why last Sunday I knew it wasn't the time to go back in the water. I'm just going to take it one day at a time and see what happens."

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Post by sharkbait »

Shark attack survivor had previous run-ins
Mom says surfer retiring from sport after 4th incident
Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writers

Monday, December 11, 2006

Royce Fraley is either very lucky or he doesn't taste very good.

Fraley, 43, of Guerneville was snatched Sunday by a great white shark off Dillon Beach and dragged 15 feet underwater before popping back up with only minor injuries after the beast apparently spit him out.

It was the longtime surfer's fourth brush with a shark -- and he was so shaken up Monday that he told his mother he probably will hang up his surfboard for good.

"He said that because he has witnessed and been involved in other attacks, he is going to hang it up," said his mother, Sylvia Fraley of Pebble Beach. "It was just by the grace of God that this shark didn't bite down that hard. It got part of his hip and upper torso, but they were all superficial wounds. How lucky is that?"

It was the third time a shark has bumped up against Fraley while he was surfing. He told relatives and fellow surfers that a shark dented his board two months ago near Bodega Bay after it bumped him from underneath. The shark then followed him to shore.

Fraley, who has been surfing for 30 years, told The Chronicle in 2002 that another shark bumped his board in 1998 when he was surfing near the mouth of the Russian River, knocking him 3 feet in the air.

"It hit the board dead center, and as I came down, whitewater was splashing all over. Then there was the fricking shark out of the water, a little more than an arm's length away," he told The Chronicle. "It just comes up with the stereotypical thing out of the movies, eyes rolled back, straight up and down, its jaws open once, closes, and goes back down. I just turned the board toward the beach and was in full flight mode."

In November 2002, Fraley assisted bodyboarder Mike Casey, who had been bitten down to the bone in four places near Bodega Bay. Fraley, who had trained as a lifeguard in college, helped apply pressure on Casey's femoral artery to stop him from bleeding.

"My legs had been hammered by the shark, and Royce was one of the first people tending me," Casey, who has made a full recovery and still bodyboards, said Monday. "I was very, very concerned when I learned Royce was involved in this one. There is a personal connection because he helped me out in my situation."

Fraley, who spent Monday at home in Guerneville with his wife and two young children, declined to comment.

Sunday's shark attack was the first at Dillon Beach in 10 years and the 90th along the California and Oregon coasts since 1966, most of which have occurred between Monterey and Bodega Bay in an area known as the Red Triangle, according to shark experts.

Fraley was facedown on his surfboard off Dillon Beach on Sunday morning when the gaping jaw of a 12- to 15-foot-long shark clamped onto his board -- its teeth slicing through the board -- and pulled Fraley at least 15 feet under.

"He said that when he was being held down, he thought he was going to die drowning and his whole life flashed in front of him," his mother said.

The buoyancy of the surfboard pulled back, and when the shark let go it shot to the surface with Fraley holding tight. He and the 10 other stunned surfers in the water at the time paddled back to shore as quickly as they could.

"He was very quiet. We were all really quiet trying to paddle," said Nick Marlow, a close friend who owns the Northern Lights Surf Shop in Bodega, where the attack was the main topic of conversation Monday. "He didn't look scared. He just looked like he had gone through something very serious and was taking it in."

Chris Dwyer, a paramedic with the Marin County Fire Department in Tomales who was dispatched at 11:50 a.m., said the bite mark went through the surfboard and spanned 18 inches. He said the protruding teeth reddened Fraley's upper leg and right groin area, but there was no blood.

Fraley declined to be taken to the hospital via ambulance, opting to go with a friend. He was treated and released.

"He said, 'I just want to go home and spend the rest of the day with my children,' " Dwyer said. "This individual could have been hurt a lot worse or killed. He's very, very lucky to be alive today. He should play the lottery."

The last shark attack in Northern California occurred in October 2005 when Megan Halavais, a 20-year-old surfing instructor, survived after breaking free from a 14-foot great white.

There was a spate of nonfatal shark attacks in 2004, including one in the waters off the Point Reyes National Seashore, one near Bodega Bay and two near Pismo and Avila beaches in San Luis Obispo County. But in August 2004, an abalone diver was killed off the coast of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.

The last known shark attack near Dillon Beach occurred in October 1996, when an abalone diver was bitten by a great white.

John McCosker, a senior scientist at the California Academy of Sciences and a great white shark expert, said Sunday's attack was unusual because the vast majority of attacks occur between August and October.

He said there were 20 confirmed and five suspected great white shark attacks on humans in California and Oregon between 1993 and 2003, most of them against surfers. The number of attacks jumped in the 1970s, he said, mainly because of an increase in the number of surfers and a decrease in the size of their surfboards -- which began looking to sharks more like seals and sea lions.

Environmental activism in California may also be playing a part, he said, by improving the marine ecosystem in the western Pacific.

"There appear to be more sharks," McCosker said. "They have been occurring more commonly in places where they hadn't been before."

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Post by sharkbait »

Surfer survives great white shark attack off Marin County
Tanya Schevitz, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, December 10, 2006

(12-10) 22:19 PST -- A surfer from Guerneville was attacked and dragged about 15 feet underwater near Dillon Beach by what is believed to be a great white shark Sunday, according to Marin County authorities.

Royce Frailey, 43, survived with just minor bite marks.

He was resting face down on his board waiting for a wave a couple hundred feet off of Dillon Beach at about 11:50 a.m. when he felt a surge of water beneath him, said Marin County Fire Capt. Rick Wonneberger. Then a shark, 12 to 15 feet long, clamped onto his surfboard, its teeth shooting through the board.

"It lifted him up and then he felt a sting in his right hip and upper thigh and the shark took him and dove down with him about 15 feet," Wonneberger said. "He was holding the board with all of his might. As he went down, the resistance was too much and he popped up and rocketed out of the water."

Frailey and a friend surfing nearby swam quickly to shore.

Wonneberger said Frailey's injuries were not enough to warrant an ambulance and a friend drove him to the hospital where he was treated and released.

"There is no doubt in my mind that his injuries are so minimal because of the surfboard," Wonneberger said. "The board took the brunt of the bite."

Wonneberger said there were at least 10 surfers out at the time of the attack.

"It was an excellent day to be surfing," he said.

He said that Frailey was only maybe 100 or 200 feet from shore and was not out near the tip of Tomales Point, a spot known for shark activity which Wonneberger called the "shark pit."

The last attack in Northern California was more than a year ago in Oct. 2005 when a 20-year-old surfing instructor survived after wrestling free from a 14-foot great white shark.

Megan Halavais was lying on her surfboard when a shark grabbed her right leg from behind and pulled her under the water with her board. She fought the shark by grabbing it and hitting it, and escaped with cuts on her right leg that required surgery.

There was a spate of shark attacks in 2004, including one in the waters off the Point Reyes National Seashore, one near Bodega Bay and two near Pismo and Avila beaches. All of those were non fatal. But in August 2004, an abalone diver was killed by a shark off the coast of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.

The last known shark attack near Dillon Beach occurred in October 1996 when an abalone diver was bitten by a great white.

John McCosker, a senior scientist at the California Academy of the Sciences and a great white expert, said that the waters just off Dillon Beach are not necessarily more dangerous than most other coastal areas in Northern California.

"The person that surfs there tomorrow is dumb. The person who surfed there today is unlucky," he said.

However, he said, there are certainly great white sharks in the area.

"There is no reason to be surprised that one would be attacked at Dillon Beach," he said. "That beach has white sharks patrolling the beach for seals and sea lions."

He said that if it is confirmed by teeth prints, Sunday's incident will have been the first unprovoked attack on a human by a great white shark in California this year. While not unprecedented, he said that it is unusual for an attack to happen this late in the year.

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Post by sharkbait »

Marin Surfer Survives White Shark Attack

POSTED: 4:29 pm PST December 10, 2006
UPDATED: 2:48 pm PST December 11, 2006

DILLON BEACH -- A 43-year-old surfer survived a great white shark attack Sunday with only minimal wounds after the predator bit through his surfboard and dragged him undersea momentarily.

Royce Frailey, of Guernville, was surfing with friends before he was attacked around 11:50 a.m. off Dillon Beach in northwest Marin County, according to Marin County fire Capt. Rick Wonneberger.

Before Sunday's incident, Wonneberger said he could recall only one other shark attack in the area, a nonfatal bite occurring about 10 years ago.

Frailey suffered minimal wounds, as the predator apparently sunk only one jaw's worth of teeth into the surfer's surfboard.

The board showed teeth marks from the attack, and Frailey himself was pulled 15 feet under the waves before the shark let go of his thigh and leg, the captain said.

Frailey held on to his board "for dear life" and "popped up like a cork" about 10 feet from his surfing buddy, said Marin County fire Capt. Rick Wonneberger. The pair then paddled safely to shore.

The shark's teeth nicked Frailey's right hip and upper thigh but did not draw blood, with the board taking the brunt of the damage.

"He was extremely lucky," Wonneberger said.

Frailey was paddling facedown when he felt a surge of water and then a bite, the fire captain said.

Frailey's surfing companion said it was a great white shark measuring between 12 and 15 feet.

The owners of the private beach where the attack occurred planned to post signs warning other surfers of the possible danger. The attack was the first in 10 years along that section of the northern Marin County coast, Wonneberger said.

A 20-year-old surfer underwent two surgeries after suffering a 19-inch shark bite on her right leg while surfing along the Sonoma County coast several miles north last year.

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