Scott Stephens, 25, of Manila, Calif., told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that he was able to drive the shark off by punching it. He described the shark as being about 4 feet long and said it was probably a juvenile great white shark.
Stephens was attacked Tuesday in Eureka, 270 miles north of San Francisco. He praised other surfers who came to his aid and the emergency personnel who responded and treated him at the hospital.
He also had sympathy for the shark and said he knew the risks.
"You're entering into their home every time you go surfing," he said. "I have a lot of respect for him."
Dr. John Van Speybroeck, who operated on Stephens at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka said one surfer may have saved Stephens' life by lying on him to stop his bleeding. Van Speybroeck said the shark inflicted seven deep cuts but did not harm any vital organs.