Three weeks after James White was bitten by a shark, the bite marks on his leg were still evident.
“The first time I told someone this, they responded, ‘You’re insane, there’s no way that could have happened,'” he added.
Then I showed him the photographs and said, “No, that definitely happened.”
On July 21, White, a resident of Rohnert Park, was fishing from the shore of Bodega Bay in Sonoma County.
Because he was so close to the road and didn’t want his dog to come too close to the traffic, he left Darby, his one-year-old, 100-pound pit bull, in his car parked only a few yards away.
Eventually, White felt a substantial pull on his line. Regardless of what it was, he was unable to reel it in.
“About ten minutes,” he stated. “I believe I was only able to retrieve the rope because it was swimming toward me.”
When he brought the creature into shallow water, he realized he had caught a 6-foot, sevengill shark.
As White attempted to remove the hook from the shark’s mouth, the shark turned, fell to the ground, and bit his ankle.
“Rapidly, there was blood everywhere; the initial bite perforated an artery,” he explained. The strain was great.
White did everything he could to free the shark, but he was unsuccessful. A few hundred yards away, he yelled for rescue to other fishermen, but Darby reached him before they could respond.
The dog heard White cry and struggle, so he was able to open a car door and race down the tiny slope to his owner.
Darby charged the shark and bit its gills, causing it to sink its teeth further into White.
White stated, “And I told him, ‘No retreat,’ and then Darby repositioned himself and got it by the tail.” He rushed literally up the hill with it and removed it from my leg.
After White threw the shark back into the water, the shark swam away.
White is uncertain how he could have convinced the shark to release without Darby. He asserts that the dog saved more injury to his leg, which could have resulted in a ruptured artery rather than a pierced one.
White displays his highest regard for Darby. He claims that because Darby, also known as “House Hippo,” is such a loving and energetic dog, he was unaware of how capable and quick-witted he was.
“He has always been a part of the family. Now, a little bit more. If not for him, my condition would have been much worse.”