Nor Cal shredded shredder Eric Steinley.

An Almost Post Mortem Interview With Great White Shark Attack Survivor Eric Steinley, “My soul is on the mend, it was pretty dark there for a while”

“I reached down and touched its massive face. Then I grabbed it in the eye, not so much aggressively, just trying to figure out what it was.” 

Around nine am on Sunday, the third of October, 38-year-old Eric Steinley was attacked by a Great White shark while surfing Salmon Creek in Sonoma County, just north of Bodega Bay and about 20 miles as the emergency helicopter flies west of Santa Rosa.

“The feeling was very heavy, like swimming with a bag of bricks on you,” Steinley said in a telephone interview from his hospital bed with the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa. “I reached down with my right hand and touched its massive face. Then I grabbed it in the eye, not so much aggressively, just trying to figure out what it was.”

Sympathetic to the physical, mental, financial, spiritual and neoprenal plight of shark attack victims, we contacted Steinley and sent him some email questions to answer, based on shark attack victims I had interviewed in the past.

Steinley answered a couple days later.

How did you like the show? Any PTSD? Post Traumatic Shark Dreams? 

Strangely I’ve only had one dream since I’ve been home. It was a nightmare but not shark related, I don’t remember specifically but it was violent. I do find it weird that I haven’t had other dreams or at least remembered them because prior to this event I had vivid dreams a couple times a week. It’s just kinda blank up there now.

Sonoma County Fire stacks Eric in the chopper for the twenty-minute ride to Santa Rosa Memorial Hozzy. From Santa Rosa Press Democrat Instagram.

A few people I’ve interviewed said that’s the worst part of it all: When it happens you don’t know it’s coming, but when you dream about it, you do know it’s coming and it’s terrifying. One guy in particular had a lot of trouble with that. 

The worst part of it all is the nerve pain. The shark severed my peroneal nerve at my fibula (which it also broke.) The surgeon did reattach it but I’m told it will take three months to determine if the nerve is going to accept the surgery and start to heal. Basically, it feels like there is a hot iron on different parts of my foot. This is constant… all day.

Are you still in hospital or under care, or did they let you out?

I am at home with my girlfriend caring for me mostly and my mother coming down from Reno to give her a break so she can go to work. I do need care at the moment because I can’t drive right now (right leg injury) and it’s difficult for me to move around and do basic things.

Those suckers do a lot of damage, don’t they? 

They do, I feel even though it was a clean bite without a lot of thrashing I’m lucky to have my leg because the surfboard (and fins) stopped the bite from going all the way through.

How close do you think you came to dying?

I’m not sure technically how close I was, but I was airlifted to the hospital and put into surgery as soon as I got there to stop the bleeding. I can tell you once I got into the ambulance and was waiting for the helicopter I felt very cold and had lost a lot of blood and that was pretty scary.

The time when I thought I was going to die was in the water when I was paddling back to shore. I had just been attacked, there was blood in the water and I was still 60 yards from land.

Who do you want to thank for getting you to shore and stopping the bleeding and calling 9/11? 

There was Jared the surfer in the water who watched the entire thing, I caught up to him paddling and he did tell me not to look back and to keep going. There were two surfers that used their leashes as tourniquets when I got to shore, then the surfer Bailey who happens to be an EMT and ran to his car and got his kit and applied a medical tourniquet, the 10 plus surfers who carried me on a longboard up a long sandy hill to the parking lot (not to mention a shit-ton of stairs.) I also believe there was a surfer who happened to be an ER doctor as well who helped out.

Surfers carry Eric on longboard. Photo: Doc Silvia 

What is the prognosis from your doctors? Any permanent damage? 

Severed popliteal vein, severed peroneal nerve, broken fibula, hamstring, quad and calf muscle reconstruction, 70 staples. As discussed in the previous questions the main damage was to the nerve, currently I have spots on my foot and ankle with no feeling and am not able to lift my foot up. Only time will tell if I’m able to recover fully

Do you have a timeline for recovery? How much physical therapy will you need? 

If full recovery is possible I’m told it will take a year. I do have PT that comes to my house twice a week now just to work on the rest of my body from laying around in the hospital bed all day. I was told when I was in the ICU that there are PT programs that have three hours of training a day and It could be possible for me to join one of those programs if needed.

I’ve interviewed about a dozen White shark attack victims going back to Eric “Lucky” Larsen in 1990. I call him “Lucky” because he had also been struck by lightning. That guy was surfing alone in Swanton and he said the scariest part was the shark getting wrapped up in his leash and towing him out to sea. 

He shook loose and made it to shore.

He knew first aid and saved himself.

All the people I’ve interviewed have a few things in common:

They didn’t see the shark coming. 


The attack was in fairly shallow water. 


When the attack first happens, the reaction is more Discovery Channel: “Look at the size of this fricking thing!!” 

For me I didn’t even know what was going on at first, I was just underwater with a serious amount of pressure on my leg.

I know more than a few people who say it’s shocking to be surfing one minute, and then getting a helicopter ride to the hospital the next minute. 

I would agree with this, I was having a nice beautiful Sunday.

Carpark first aid. Photo: Doc Silvia

And then when they are lying in their beds, thinking it over they all say the same thing: “I can’t believe something that big could sneak up on me.” Was that your experience?

I’ve been on safari in Africa, I’m fully aware we are not at the top of the food chain. This was not the feeling I had.

Without sounding like a smart ass I have to say: “If you want to get attacked by a shark, go surf Salmon Creek in October.” Were you aware of the threat at that time at the place? 

I’ve been surfing Marin and Sonoma County for 20 years, I am aware there are sharks in the area but I would think that if they liked to eat surfers there wouldn’t be many surfers left.

Had you ever seen a big shark before that?

Not at all.

My friend Steve Guzzetta was diving for abs alone at Pigeon Point between Santa Cruz and HMB when he felt something very strange and got out of the water and Guzzy is a fearless walking muscle who could probably wrestle a White shark.The next day, Guzz dove the same spot with his friend Ernie Morgan, and a guy named Omar was bit and killed like 50 yards from them. Steve believes humans have receptors we no longer listen to, but we should. Did you get weird vibrations/feelings before the attack, some people said they did.

I did not. I have multiple times in the past but over the years have learned to suppress this feeling. I used to even shout at myself, or slap my wrist and tell myself to focus.

From the interviews I’ve done, the people who get bitten are the people who just moved: Either turned to paddle for a wave, or caught a wave, paddled back out, stopped and then kaboom! Were you the person who moved? How many people were around you? 

I was originally alone, I enjoy surfing solo. One guy had paddled out near me and had caught a wave so he was still about 30 yards from me.  Yes, I had just moved, I was sitting for a minute and then started to paddle.

Lee Fontan from Bolinas caught a wave, got burned, got mad paddled back outside the pack and stopped. He heard something coming behind him and he said he felt like a frog getting hit by a large mouth bass. Were you lifted in the air? Pulled under? Rag dolled?

This is a good description, I was not lifted in the air but I was pulled under…with ease. No shaking like a rag doll, strangely enough the shark moved slowly after he bit me, like a tug boat dragging me under.

How tall are you and how much do you weigh? 

6′-0″ and 180 pounds.

 Were you surprised by the power of the shark?

Not surprised, they are huge powerful animals. I was surprised I got attacked.

I’ve also learned that getting hit by a White shark that destroys your board, body and wetsuit is bad enough, but if you are attacked and don’t have medical insurance, then you’re really screwed. That was true with Megan Halavais.  Is that true for you?

Fortunately, I have medical insurance until February. I had just been off work for three months and started a new job that I was at for two weeks. Luckily my insurance extends out a while after you stop working depending on how many hours you have “banked”… kinda like roll over minutes.

A friend of a friend got hurt on his bicycle and the helicopter ride was like $67,000 or something like that. Do you know how much the helicopter ride to the hospital was?

I have no idea.

You went to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where Megan Halavais went, I believe. How did they handle you there?  Impressed with the care and service?  I can’t imagine they see a lot of shark attacks there.

I was attacked by a shark, went under anesthesia, had two surgeries and woke up in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar place with people I didn’t know. That was one of the worst experiences I can remember. Since there were no family members allowed that left patients literally crying and screaming at night and me not knowing what the fuck was happening. I am still dumbfounded by this.

I was impressed with the nurses and surgeons for sure. They were mostly amazing and I’m thankful they saved my life.

Unfortunately because of Covid and with the exception of my mom and GF being able to visit once for 15 mins, no one was allowed in. So I was attacked by a shark, went under anesthesia, had two surgeries and woke up in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar place with people I didn’t know. That was one of the worst experiences I can remember. Since there were no family members allowed that left patients literally crying and screaming at night and me not knowing what the fuck was happening. I am still dumbfounded by this. I have to say this in no way reflects the nurses or doctors themselves and seems to be a complete policy flaw.

How long did they work on you? 

I was in the ICU for four days, then transferred to a nearby wing for another two days. I know the nerve surgery took about six hours, I’m not sure how long the vascular surgery took.

Were you in the ER or did they move you to a specialist?

I was in the Trauma Center.

Well there are few things more traumatic than getting attacked by a shark, out at sea. It’s been two weeks now: How is your mind? How is your body? How is your soul? 

My mind is ok. I’m still thinking about surfing in the future and what it will be like. My leg is slowly getting better, it’s just the nerve pain that’s pretty bad. My soul is on the mend, it was pretty dark there for a while.

Most people don’t ever have a near-death experience but you sure did. By an animal. How are you digesting it all, mentally, physically, financially?

I am not a religious person, I consider us all animals. I’m digesting it as well as possible. Financially I’m still waiting for the GoFundMe funds to be transfered. Strangely enough that platform is rather challenging to work with and it’s impossible to speak to anyone on the phone. So here we are three weeks later and I’m still waiting on funds to be put into a bank account.

I just looked at your GoFundMe and it’s up to $40,452 of the $50,000 goal. Maybe they don’t pay out until it hits the $50,000 goal? We’ll try to bump that up for you. Click here.  

I wonder what the total tally on this is going to be: helicopter ride, plus hospital bills plus nursing plus out of work plus physical therapy plus other things, if that’s not too personal. 

I do wonder what the total cost is going to be myself, only time will tell. Who knows if I will need more surgeries in the future and what type of mental health help I will need as well.

Please let us know which O’Neill wetsuit you want and if there’s anything else you can do, please let us know. 

Hyperfreak 4/3, hooded, front zip, size large. I’ve heard there is a shark repellent leash… One of those would be great!

In love, in Waikiki.

Modern Waikiki is an earthly paradise of surf, sun, high-end shopping and must be protected from unimaginative bores who would dare tarnish its glorious name!

David Lee Scales has it coming.

Ooooooooooh I don’t get hopping mad much, red in the face, curses bubbling up from deep inside before expectorating out* but on Thursday just past I almost leapt my second coffee table and almost danced with David Lee Scales.

It all happened so quickly.

There we, per the usual, at the finest surf shop San Clemente has to offer, chatting about my pivot from hardened cynic to a bubbling fount of anti-depressive joy (buy here), Jonah Hill being a total pussy, Dave Chappelle delivering a masterpiece etc. when Scales brought up the recent, tragic, surfboard rack fire there in Waikiki and began spouting off on what an abomination Oahu’s crown jewel is.

“I was scared to walk out of my Airbnb because prostitutes were coming up and down the stairs, homeless drug addicts everywhere, big gaudy Chanel stores, blah blah blah it was horrible.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Waikiki has, truly, been on of my very favorite places on earth for decades now. I love everything about it from its history to its architecture to its high-end shopping to its hotels, tourists, Hawaiiana, Roy Yamaguchi’s Hawaiian fusion fare.


I could spend the rest of my days waltzing up and down Kalakaua Avenue, never wanting for nothing, and to hear David Lee besmirch it so set my heart pounding, blood boiling.

(WHOOP numbers forthcoming.)

I dished out a stream of truths, allowing him to escape physical violence as he is just about to have a baby any day now, but, later, wondered what you think about Waikiki.

Abomination or gem?

Be careful how you respond.

Listen here for more on Jonah Hill being a complete pussy.

Also, Punch-Drunk Love is one of the greatest movies ever made.


Continue being careful.

*Upon further reflection, I get hopping mad, red in the face, expectorating etc. often.

Paddle power.

Surf Journalist finds Holy Grail of physical fitness in federal prison system, readies self for profound performance enhancement!

Get WHOOPed.

I am back from that beautiful gem in California’s much-maligned Central Valley with a new hunger for our sport of kings. A reinvigorated passion to learn, improve, to be the best surfer in the water not by having the most fun, no never, but, rather, by surfing the best. Opening shoulders during turns, bending at the knees not the waist, etc.

It was at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch that I learned, for the first time, that fitness actually enhances surfing. Thigh muscles necessary, a torso that can twist, but how to build the platform and build quick all while measuring progress with WHOOP, the very latest in fitness tracking excellence?


If Hollywood has taught me anything, it is that Robert De Niro looked peak best in Cape Fear, Steve McQueen in Papillon, Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke all lean and well-muscled. They looked like they would have each a fine wrapping cutback and I should attempt to become prison fit like them but how?

Ahhhh, Cousin Danny.

My own flesh and blood is currently serving yet another stint inside after going on yet another bank robbery spree after getting out of prison for going on a bank robbery spree and nearing legendary status.

A stone’s throw from being the most prolific bank robber in United States history.

The book, featuring Cousin Danny’s run, releases this Spring (Blessed are the Bank Robbers: The True Adventures of an Evangelical Outlaw, pre-order here etc.) and you can learn much about how to rob banks for yourself but we had never discussed fitness and so I asked him forthwith.

“How can I get prison fit?”

He responded mercifully quickly.

“10x pushups, 10x squats, ten times. 9x pushups, 9x squats, nine times. 8x pushups, 8x squats, eight times all the way down to one and then back up to ten.”

Visions of pig dogged tube rides danced in my head as marched out to the backyard cedar paneled yoga room, the closest approximation to cement box I currently have, and began.

I finished after 160 pushups, 160 squats, not even 3/10 of the way through the program. Shoulders on fire, especially reconstructed one. Thighs unable to take anymore. Sweating more profusely than after running three miles, than surfing Surf Ranch for an hour plus twenty minutes.

WHOOP strap, never not affixed, registered the strain as a 12.9.

A fine number, more than running three miles, and I felt well on my way to a powerful down carve so went surfing immediately.

I was too tired to do much, barely able to pop to feet, but did do one turn in my short 45 min session that felt powerful-adjacent and I knew I was on the right path.

Hardening up.

The surfing, itself, still did not register as an “activity.”

Kelly Slater slammed by Australian Press after launching multiple fronts in online vaccine war; says friends have “literally” been killed by vaccines and claims “I know more about being healthy than 99% of doctors!”

“I had another of many friends have a horrible reaction to the vaccine just today. She thought she was dying and fears her quality of life has changed in the past few days for good."

The world’s greatest surfer, athlete, Kelly Slater, has enlivened an otherwise dreary news day by teeing off on COVID vaccines on a relatively obscure Instagram account. 

The almost fifty-year-old Slater lit up after the account @summer_ofsurf posted a message thanking ocean racing competitors for getting vaccinated against COVID-19, prompting ironman Matt Poole to write. 

“The next time I head down to surfers I’m going to jump in the rip because “freedom of choice”,” Poole wrote. “It’s no issue for me, but as soon as I start telling others there is no danger in the rip, they’ll jump in too, and tell their mates and before you know it, there is a 100 of us in there… Now some of the 100 get in trouble, and lifesavers come to save them… putting those lifesavers in danger as well. Now 50 are drowning and the lifesavers are overrun, and can’t save them all or themselves…. But that was our choice. It’s not freedom of choice if it impacts others — it’s about helping others.”

Here, Slater jumped in. 

“@matt_poole1 let me explain why your analogy makes no sense. If I know the risks (informed consent) and I judge the choice to be one that benefits/hurts me based on stats and info and my own ability (health), I can choose accordingly.

“If something happens to me it’s on me, not someone else. Your argument is a false equivalence. Apples and oranges. If 99.7% of all people would be fine with no lifeguard while in that rip and they’re given all the possibilities, most could swim the most dangerous part of that beach without risking drowning.

“And plenty of people drive without seatbelts. We can agree that’s statistically not a great thing at speed but it’s still your choice, not mine. And my seatbelt (like the gene therapy) doesn’t save you so that’s another fallacy. Now regarding covid…21 total deaths in OZ under the age of 30 and 6 below 20. This is clearly a disease of obese, unhealthy, and elderly if you study the official statistics.

“And for people saying listen to the doctors, I’m positive I know more about being healthy than 99% of doctors, but I wouldn’t trust me. But most of my covid info comes directly from doctor friends, many of them in disagreement with the official ‘science’.

“I had another of many friends have horrible reaction to the vaccine just today. She thought she was dying and fears her quality of life has changed in the past few days for good. My mom also is part of those underreported stats. Other friends have literally died from it. So anyone here shaming people who are affected or concerned does nothing but feed the ego.

“When you study and talk to health professionals that deal with actual health and find out about the immune system suppression from the vaccines one day, you’ll open your mind to it.

“Don’t worry, plenty of doctors also talk about this but your algorithm isn’t feeding it to you. It’s wild that people don’t believe we are born with the ability of our bodies to adjust and prepare for different health issues. Covid exposes the unhealthy underlying patterns and issues in people.”

Back in August, Slater leveraged his formidable social media platforms to create what he had hoped would be a non-politicised debate around the use of vaccines to fight COVID-19 and its sequels.

Slater posted an excerpt from an article by Michael Yeadon, a former VP of Pfizer who has become the poster-boy of anti-vaxxers for his belief that there’s gonna be a few side effects we don’t know about yet.

“There is absolutely no need for vaccines to extinguish the pandemic,” wrote Yeadon. “I’ve never heard such nonsense talked about vaccines. You do not vaccinate people who aren’t at risk from a disease. You also don’t set about planing to vaccinate millions of fit and healthy people with a vaccine that hasn’t been extensively tested on human subjects.” 

Adding an addendum Slater wrote,

“Something to ponder. But I’m no epidemiologist.” 

In a story from March, news agency Reuters tore hell out of Yeadon and his claims etc.

Read that here. 

Cape Cod swimmers and surfers under siege from Great White sharks reports New York Times, “We have to rethink how we enter the water as we have an apex predator that has returned.”

“Fear on Cape Cod as sharks hunt again!”

Here’s a story eerily familiar to surfers and anyone who goes into the water beyond their shins in Australia. 

No Whites around, virtually no attacks in the past one hundred years… suddenly… boom…boom…boom… hits, fatals, surfers bleeding out on the sand.

Gorgeous Cape Cod, that geographical cape that swings its J-curved arm from the south-east corner of mainland Massachusetts, think rich cunts festooned in striped tees riding in yachts etc, has suddenly become “host to one of the densest seasonal concentrations of adult white sharks in the world.” 

The NYT magazine reports Great Whites are now aggregating around Cape Cod in numbers never before seen in living memory. 

“The animals trickle into the region during lengthening days in May, increase in abundance throughout summer, peak in October and mostly depart by the dimming light and plunging temperatures of Thanksgiving.” 

Here’s the numbers: during the entire twentieth century there were three shark attacks, one fatal, in 1936. 

Since 2012, there have been five hits by Great Whites.

Last year, a Great White killed a swimmer at Casco Bay, Maine, a couple of hundred miles south. 

“In Maine, we never knew we had Great White sharks,” the swimmer’s husband said. 

The story is a horror show of first-person accounts. 

Here, lifeguard Nina Lanctot arrives to find boogieboarder Arthur Medici, hit by a White, dragged out of the water onto the sand by his pal Issac Rocha. 

Medici was motionless and without expression. His pupils were fixed and blank. He was not breathing. She checked his pulse. There was none. Scanning, taking in information quickly, she examined his wounds. A chunk of flesh of one leg was missing, and the other leg was mangled. Worse, the wounds were not bleeding or noticeably seeping. Lanctot’s eyes followed drag marks leading from the water to Medici’s silent frame. There was not a drop of blood. His femoral or popliteal arteries had been severed, she figured, and his blood drained away. Without hemostatic clamps and immediate transfusions, he was past saving. The nearest hospital was more than 30 miles away. Lanctot knew this math. It was bad.

She heard a man in the crowd. “You’ve got to do something,” he said

Rocha had tied a boogie-board leash around one of Medici’s legs. Lanctot slipped the tourniquet around the other, just under his groin, and twisted it tight, clamping quadriceps and hamstring hard to bone. The lifeguards and doctors worked frantically, pumping Medici’s chest with the flat of their hands while one gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Lanctot felt pangs of empathy. Medici’s skin was turning ashen. Rocha was inconsolable. She wished his mother were there to comfort him. She held Medici’s hand, hoping he would feel companionship, knowing he could not acknowledge it.

Surfers are referenced later in the piece, which you can read in its entirety here. 

After Medici’s death, some surfers switched to stand-up paddle boards, which largely keep limbs out of the water and offer greater visibility. Others, like Lanctot, quit surfing on the Outer Cape. Some kept surfing, but with whistles, so if a shark appeared they could clear people fast.


Scientists have applauded the arrival of the Great White packs, 

“The annual returns are a success story, a welcome sign of ecosystem recovery at a time when many wildlife species are depleted.”

So there’s that, I suppose.