Story By: Ana Lacasa, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: CEN
A surfer has been bitten in the face by an angry shark which he fell on when he lost his balance while riding a wave near a school of sardines in the evening during feeding time.
Carlos Vinicius Cavalcanti, 31, was bitten in the head by the lemon shark while surfing off the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, a mecca for surfers, in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco.
Carlos was rushed to the nearby Hospital Sao Lucas where he underwent a five-hour emergency operation in which doctors used 33 stitches to repair the damage to his face, ear and neck.
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He was bitten by the shark while surfing off Cacimba do Padre beach which is renowned for its perfect waves.
Carlos said he lost balance while riding a wave, fell off his surfboard and landed on the surprised shark which reacted by biting him.
Lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) can grow to 3.4 metres (11 feet) long but rarely attack humans unless they are provoked.
Carlos said the incident was his own fault and he did not blame the shark which had reacted “like anyone would, by defending itself”.
He said: “I was careless, I was surfing at the end of the evening near a shoal of sardines, and I stayed there even though I had seen a shark in the water.
“It was an accident, no more! I have learned a lesson and I will not surf anymore at the end of the evening. But as long as I’m healthy, I’ll surf the waves, I need the sea.”
Carlos added that, as soon as he recovered, he would be returning to Fernando de Noronha to surf in “that wonderful place, being happy and connecting with ocean”.
He also thanked doctors and nurses at the hospital for looking after him. A hospital spokesman said: “He is OK, his condition is stable and he will be released soon.”
The incident sparked organisers of the World Surf League’s Hang Loose Pro Contest, to be held at the same beach this week, to discuss measures to keep surfers safe from sharks.
Fernando de Noronha is renowned for its marine wildlife with sea turtles, rays, dolphins and sharks swimming in its warm, clear waters.
Lemon sharks are well known to feed at dawn and dusk, and at night. They mainly eat fish but have been known to eat other types of sea animal too. They rarely attack humans and usually only to defend themselves.