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Surf camp instructor recovering from shark bite

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 2:29 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2021 at 2:26 PM CDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - In just a matter of seconds, a surf camp on Tybee Island turned quite scary for some when the instructor was attacked by a shark.

A few days later, he says he’s ready to share his experience and spread ocean awareness.

Atsushi Yamada has been teaching surf lessons on the island for more than 10 years. He says he always makes sure, no matter their age, that his surfers are aware of the risks in the water.

It wasn’t until Tuesday that he came face-to-face with one of the risks himself.

Yamada shares his surfing passion every summer with children of all ages. He holds weekly camps, and this week is sure to stand out.

“I got a total of one here, one here and the bigger one right on the shin,” Yamada said.

Yamada says he was sitting on his board helping a camper get back on shore because it was a stormy day. That’s the moment when a shark came up and bit him on the leg, leaving behind three gashes.

“Ok now she’s in the safe zone and less than three seconds later I was attacked. I was very, very thankful, it’s almost a miracle, the shark didn’t get her,” Yamada said.

His immediate reaction, he says, was that he hoped the shark wouldn’t get to anyone else. He says he stayed calm so as to not cause a scene.

“I didn’t want to get too panicked, so I was hoping I could manage to paddle myself back in close enough they could listen to me,” he said.

Yamada was able to get a first-aid kit from one of his instructors and wrapped his leg, to stop the bleeding, in the water.

“I was heavily breathing, a lot of pain.”

Soon after, this lifeguard and an ambulance came to help. All this week’s campers showed back up two days after the incident, which Yamada says shows how brave they are.

“It doesn’t get any better than this. I mean, I get to see them again. They’re all smiling, they’re stoked, and the waves are perfect for them to learn, so I cannot be more thankful than this,” Yamada said.

Yamada says a researcher who specializes in shark bites looked at his injury and determined that the bite could be from a juvenile bull shark or black tip shark. He reminds people that we are the intruders in the ocean, so be aware of every risk possible before getting in the water.

When asked if he would be nervous getting back in the water, he responded, “I mean, again, it’s a part of the deal! Part of the deal! Part of the sport we love, and I cannot do this without going in the ocean.”

Yamada says he got plastic surgery on his leg already and he has about a three-week recovery. Of course, he plans to be in the water surfing as soon as he cleared to do so.

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