Surfer escapes rare UK shark attack with cut thumb

A smooth-hound shark of the kind believed to have carried out the attack.
A smooth-hound shark of the kind believed to have carried out the attack. Photo credit: Getty

A man has escaped serious injury in what's believed to be the UK's first ever shark attack on a surfer.

Rich Thomson, 30, was surfing off England's southern coast in Devon when a metre-long shark grabbed his leg, The Telegraph reports.

"I turned round and saw this little shark was on my thigh and wriggling its head side to side," Mr Thomson told the paper.

"I hit it on the head and it swam off. My hand was cut to pieces."

Photographs of Mr Thomson's thumb show plenty of blood, but it wasn't enough to convince his wife.

"I went home and told my wife I was late because I had been bitten by a shark," he said. "She said 'I've heard that one before,' but it was true."

His wetsuit appears to have saved his leg, which only had bruising.

It's believed the shark was of the smooth hound variety.

Contrary to much of the reporting about Mr Thomson's close encounter, it isn't the first shark attack in UK waters.

In 2016, a shark bit off a chunk of a windsurfer's board in Felixstowe, Suffolk, in the country's east.

According to sharkattackdata.com, there have been 39 prior incidents dating back to 1785. Only three of them were fatal - two of them on August 1, 1956, after an attempt to kill sharks with explosives went awry.

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