Neil Salunga
  • Neil Salunga

Name: Neil Salunga

Age: 29

Occupation: Firefighter

Lives in: San Ysidro

Pre-surf music: N.W.A.

Girls in the water?: “Total distraction.”

Neil Salunga recounts the experience of getting attacked by a shark:

“A year ago, I was surfing at Ocean Beach, in San Francisco. I was paddling out into the lineup, and I felt something graze my board. A few seconds later, I saw the fin. I knew it was a shark, but I didn’t know how big. I thought it swam away, and I continued surfing.

“About an hour later, I got knocked off my board by a wave and pulled under. My leash snapped, and I was disoriented. I saw this dark shadow swimming at me, and I felt teeth hit my shoulder. I knew it was the shark. I tried to surface, but it came at me again….

“I balled up my fist and swung. It didn’t have much power behind it, but I hit the shark near its nose. I surfaced, and another surfer helped me in. My wetsuit had been bitten through, and I had a few shallow cuts. I’m lucky it wasn’t worse.”

Neil says he has been to “almost every major beach in America” and has never had any other threatening encounters with ocean life. He’s been surfing since age nine and admits that he is a bit of an adrenaline junkie. At work, Neil fights fires; in his spare time, he hang glides, explores caves, and surfs.

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