SHELTER COVE, Ca. (KIEM)-A Eureka man is lucky to be alive after surviving hypothermia and a shark attack according to the Shelter Cove Fire Rescue.
“Our duty officer was the first one on scene and he checked out the entire marina area with binoculars and said he could not find anybody,” the Shelter Cove Fire’s spokesperson.
The Shelter Cove Fire Rescue was paged at about 7:30 Monday morning for a kayaker in distress somewhere around the Shelter Cove Marina, the duty officer headed to the nearby lighthouse to scan the ocean.
“And he located the man in distress with kayak kinda flipping over and over and over,” said Shelter Cove Fire spokesperson Cheryl Antony.
Antony says the duty officer kept his eyes on the kayaker as ocean rescue was called.
“We had two boats ready and launched and he kept contact with everybody by radio.”
According Antony the Shelter Cove tractor driver who launches boats in the water, put out a distress call to all the boats in the area.
A Jet Ski and rigid haul inflatable boat dispatched to the rescue, along with a helicopter from McKinleyville, launched by the Coast Guard.
The first one to get to Michael Thallheimer Jr. was a boater named Cody, who pulled the distressed kayaker aboard his boat and then dragged the Thallheimer Jr.’s kayak behind them.
Thallheimer Jr. said he went fishing about an hour before the distress call came in, according to Antony.
“And he was stringing them up (ling cod) and realizing that some of the blood from the fish was going down into the water,” she said. “Immediately, he said, within 30 seconds there was a shark.”
Said to be between 16 and 18 feet long, the shark then took a big bite that landed about 6 inches from his foot, according to Antony.
First responders warmed Thallheimer Jr. up and his wife brought dry clothing, he was a bit shaken up but sustained no injuries.
“He said I know better than to go alone, I should have made sure somebody was with me,” she said.
Antony stresses those who plan on going fishing should wait to be back on land before cleaning their catch, and never go out on the ocean alone.