One California woman is considering herself lucky after a shark bit straight through her surfboard, but left her miraculously unscathed. Elinor Dempsey told KSBY that she was surfing just off Morro Strand State Beach last Saturday when she spotted the estimated seven-foot animal. At first, Dempsey thought it was a dolphin.

“The next thing I knew its body was right here, like literally next to me and time sort of stops,” she recalled. “I thought ‘I think I could pat it.’ I thought it was a dolphin. It was the same color as a dolphin.”

The shark was most assuredly not looking to play around with the surfer. Before she could reach out and touch the animal, it surged upwards and collided with her surfboard. Dempsey initially thought it wanted to get on top with her, but later realized that the shark had taken a massive bite out of the board. The impact knocked her into the water and she began frantically swimming toward safety.

“That was the freaky part,” Dempsey told the San Luis Obispo Tribune, “When I started swimming in and not knowing what was going on behind me in the water. I wasn’t thinking much, except, ‘Shit, I better get in!’”

Bystanders, including California State Parks employees, described the scene as one of abject terror.

“I saw her being tumbled off her board and the shark underneath the board,” said Jamie Bettencourt. “So it was kind of a tangle of her and the board and the leash and the shark — dark gray fin and tail. And she was yelling and the shark went under and swam away.”

Fortunately, the shark decided after its first foamy mouthful that it wanted none of the surfer and instead swam away. When Dempsey reached the shore, State Parks employees began evacuating swimmers out of the water and locked down the beach. When officials later recovered Dempsey’s surfboard, they measured the bite to be over 13 inches wide and eight inches deep. According to experts, that could be indicative of a great white.

You can watch an interview with Dempsey below:

Image from Twitter

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