FOLLY BEACH, S.C., June 8 (UPI) -- A South Carolina surfer said his board was snapped in half by a bite from a shark he estimated to measure up to 8 feet long.
The Ocean Surf Shop in Folly Beach shared photos on its Facebook page of the broken surfboard brought in by Jack O'Neil, 27, who also brought his harrowing tale of a shark encounter in the waves.
"He estimated the shark at 8 feet, and it knocked him off the board as he was paddling for a wave," the Facebook post said."The board snapped as it bounced to the beach after he pulled his leash off and escaped the shark. You never know what's lurking..."
O'Neil said he caught a brief glimpse of the shark and its teeth before he was thrown from the board.
"It felt like somebody had put on the emergency brake. It felt like you had hit a rock" he told The Post and Courier newspaper. "The board just wobbled. It peeled off a shank of my board, peeled off the complete bottom down to the stringer."
Arnold Postell, South Carolina Aquarium senior biologist, said the animal was likely a sandbar shark or a black tipped shark. He said the shark likely lost interest in the board after a single bite.
"Sharks here don't hunt on the surface for large creatures. It was mistaken identification, just random luck," he said. "Luckily it was a board instead of a person. The shark got a bad taste of the surfboard and that discouraged him from hunting there any longer."
Josh Wilson, a surfer of 33 years, was among the locals calling the authenticity of O'Neil's story into question.
"Looks like a board that's been hit and buckled and then pulled. You know, pulled apart, but definitely not a shark bite," he told WCIV-TV. "I've never in the 33 years I've been surfing seen anything that looks like that nor has anybody that we surf with on a daily basis."
Bates Hagood, general manager of the Ocean Surf Shop, defended O'Neil from allegations of falsifying his story on Facebook.
"Jack is legit. He's not the kind of guy to fictionalize a story like this. We're just glad he is OK," he wrote.