A Coos Bay man says a great white shark knocked him from his surfboard near Winchester Bay this week.
"When it hit the board, I knew what it was," said David Lowden, 29. "It's not the first time I've had an encounter."
Lowden was paddling his board near the south jetty of the Umpqua River when a shark broke the surface behind him. He estimated its size at nearly 14 feet.
"As I'm flying off the board, I got a good look at the shape of the shark," he said.
The shark emerged halfway from the water and broke the fins from his surfboard.
"That probably scared it a bit. It thrashed around a bit ... and after that it disappeared," he said.
Lowden and another man surfed to the beach. A third surfer, Lowden's friend Mark Lorincz of North Bend, clambered onto the jetty and ditched his board.
Lowden went home without a scratch. He filled out a form, and by Thursday morning, word of his run-in was on dozens of surfing blogs and shark attack websites.
Local surfers frequently see sharks, Lowden said. He personally has seen six sharks while surfing on the Oregon Coast, including one that bumped his board in 2006.
"I wasn't that surprised, to tell you the truth," he said.
After the encounter, Lowden phoned the U.S. Coast Guard, then contacted the Shark Research Committee, a private group that tracks shark attack data. A press release from that organization characterized the incident as an "unprovoked shark attack." It was the only recorded attack this year in Oregon, and the fifth along the Pacific Coast.
Historically, most shark attacks recorded by the group occur in September. Surfers believe sharks hunt seals in Oregon waters when seals are pursuing fall salmon runs, Lowden said.
"You just have to know if you go in the water around here, you're going to run into some sea life," Lowden said. "Take it in stride."
Alan Shanks, a professor at Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, said great whites are wide-ranging sharks.
"They're moving all over the place, following prey," he said.
The encounter described by Lowden is typical shark behavior, Shanks said. He said great whites often attack from below to stun seals, sea lions and other large prey.
"These guys are primarily big-thing eaters," he said. "A surfboard from below has a silhouette not unlike a marine mammal."