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escapes jaws of shark off Reunion island
Monday, September 11, 2000
SAINT-DENIS-DE-LA-REUNION, France, Sept 10 (AFP) - A surfer who survived a sustained and frenzied attack by a three metre-long (12 feet) tiger shark in the sea off the Indian Ocean island of Reunion told how the beast came so close "I could have kissed it."
According to press reports on Sunday, Karim Maan, 27, needed about twenty stitches to a wound to his arm after the attack, which took place on Friday at a surfing spot known as the Pic du Diable, near the town of Saint Pierre.
Maan explained that he was about to paddle in at dusk when he and his board were suddenly "lifted out of the water" by the shark.
The creature proceeded to launch a series of attacks on the surfer, who tried to defend himself with his surfboard.
"The shark continued to attack and to hit me. I saw its mouth very close, I could have kissed it," he said.
"When I came up for breath, I saw its head coming at me and I heard a crunch as it bit my board and my arm at the same time," he added.
The bite was so powerful it took a chunk out of his surfboard.
The shark then let go, but was soon back on the attack, a common technique with this species, according to the doctor who treated Maan.
The surfer then managed to deliver a blow to the shark's nose, which was enough to send it away.
"I was saying to myself 'it will attack again, I'm finished, I'm finished'," Mann said.
However, he was able to climb back on to his surfboard and catch a wave that took him safely to the shore.
Despite his intimate encounter with the bad-tempered tiger shark, Mann said he has no intention of giving up surfing, which he described as his "destiny".
But he added that he might not return to the Pic du Diable, at least "not yet."