Swimmer escapes shark by punching inside its mouth

Caleb Adams, 46, was swimming in Del Mar, California, when he felt "a strong hit to my body"
Caleb Adams, 46, was swimming in Del Mar, California, when he felt "a strong hit to my body"

A swimmer punched a shark inside its mouth to escape from the predator off the coast of California.

Caleb Adams, 46, sustained several gashes to his hands and wrist as he tussled with the animal near Del Mar in San Diego County on his Sunday morning swim.

He shouted for help but by the time a friend reached him to take him back to shore the creature had disappeared.

Caleb Adams's hand following the shark attack
Caleb Adams's hand following the shark attack

Mr Adams said he had been with his swimming team just 100 yards offshore on June 2 when he felt a “strong hit to my body”.

“I knew I had been hit by a shark. I tussled with the animal for what was seconds,” he told NBC News.

“The second time I struck the animal I felt a softer tissue. I am going to speculate that that was inside the shark’s mouth. And I had several cuts on my hand and wrist.”

Caleb Adams suffered wounds to his left arm, wrist and hand in the shark attack
Caleb Adams suffered wounds to his left arm, wrist and hand in the shark attack - NBC NEWS

His friend, Kevin Barrett, heard his cries for help and brought him back to the beach.

Mr Barrett said that blood was “just pouring out of his chest”. “We could really see the traumatic extent of his injuries and it was not pretty,” he said.

Injuries sustained by Caleb Adams from the shark attack
Injuries sustained by Caleb Adams from the shark attack

A lifeguard held up Mr Adams’s chin with one hand and urged him to avoid looking down at his wounds.

The swimmer spent two days in hospital with bites to his left hand, left arm and torso, according to authorities. Most of the beach was closed after the attack.

Jenna Veal, a member of his swimming team, was behind Mr Adams when she saw him attempt to take on the shark.

“He punched it in the face. He punched it in the nose,” she said. “I do know he had a gash on his hand from a shark’s tooth.”

Returning to the beach two weeks after the attack, Mr Adams said: “It’s emotional being here, without question … I have a beautiful community to lean on and I’m very thankful.”

Experts believe Del Mar beach has become a nursery for young great white sharks.

Researchers with California State University have identified about 60 of the creatures in the area since 2020.