JENNER, Calif. — A shark believed to be a great white with a mouth as wide as a man's shoulders mauled an abalone diver on the head and neck Saturday, but the diver escaped serious injury, officials said.
The 49-year-old man, whose name was not released, flailed at the shark with a spear gun but did not fire the weapon, then paddled ashore in his kayak, state Department of Parks and Recreation spokesman Steve Edinger said.
"According to the diver, the shark's mouth was about shoulder wide but he only saw the mouth," Edinger said. "We're not sure but our guess is that it was a great white."
The attack occurred only about 20 feet offshore near some isolated rocks at Russian Gulch Beach at Sonoma Coast State Beach, he said. The diver suffered cuts to his face and neck and was flown by helicopter to Community Hospital in Santa Rosa for treatment.
Appearances by great white sharks are "not uncommon" in the area, Edinger said, although most sightings are made by abalone seekers. Abalone diving is allowed April through June and August through November, he said.