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Posted: July 06, 2014

Shark attacks California swimmer. What are the odds?

Dan Kitwood
(Getty)

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            Shark attacks California swimmer. What are the odds?
(Getty)

By Collin Ruane

A California swimmer is speaking out after a great white shark attacked him in the water on Saturday morning. He told KNBC he thought he was going to die.

"You could feel the whole body shaking with the shark. You know, just the whole thing trying to gnaw in at me." This interview came after Steven Robles spent eight hours in the hospital.

"As I was seeing it swimming toward me, it lunged at my chest and it locked into my chest."

According to KABC, a fisherman spent more than a half hour trying to reel the shark in after it got caught on his line. That's when Robles and a group of fellow swimmers swam by and Robles was attacked.

In an email to KCBS, Robles' wife said the fisherman told others nearby that he was chumming, or luring the animal with meat and even blood, to get it closer to shore. The fisherman denied that accusation.

He says he only used a sardine as bait and did not go out with the intention of catching a shark. No matter the cause, since this story broke Saturday, it has again brought attention to the issue of shark attacks. But how common are shark attacks anyway? 

The Los Angeles Times says they're pretty rare. The paper cites data that says between 2001 and 2013, California on average saw 3.25 shark attacks a year. Nationwide, attacks during that timeframe killed 12 people.

Still, the number of attacks is up over the past couple decades. A scientist told U.S. News & World Report that's likely tied to increased conservation efforts aimed at protecting sharks. The great white population has grown more than 40 percent in part of the Atlantic Ocean since 1990.

But if you're still worried, consider this. National Geographic adds you're even more likely to die from a lightning strike than you are from a shark attack. More people in the coastal U.S. die from those strikes than people do from shark attacks every year worldwide.

Officials have suspended fishing at the beach where Saturday's attack occurred until Tuesday. They also gave swimmers the all-clear to go back into the water just hours after the attack took place.

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