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Six-foot shark grabs paddling surfer by the arm

A surfer paddling out to catch a wave was grabbed by a shark that "shook him like a pit bull" and left him with a severely damaged arm. Robert Spratt, 50, of Melbourne Beach was attacked Tuesday afternoon, said fellow surfer Mike Quintal.

"All of the sudden, he went to take the last paddle and a shark about 6 feet long grabbed on to his arm," Quintal said. "It broke the bones and almost bit his arm in half. It was unreal, like watching a movie. It just came up and latched on and wouldn't let go."

The shark thrashed his tail out of the water while Spratt struggled to get free, Quintal said.

"The shark apparently came up and shook him like a pit bull," said Brevard County Fire-Rescue spokesman Mark Francesconi. "Apparently he had to punch it two or three times before it released him."

Quintal helped Spratt to shore, and an off-duty paramedic who was fishing nearby bandaged his arm.

Spratt was taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne where he underwent several hours of surgery. He was in stable condition Wednesday.

Earlier Tuesday, an 18-year-old surfer in Indialantic, less than five miles north, received minor cuts on his left foot in a shark attack, a city spokesman said. Mark Evans was treated and released at Holmes.

"This time of year they come in close following the bluefish that are migrating," said shark expert Woody Woodrum of Melbourne Beach. The former East Coast Shark Club president tags sharks for the National Marine Fisheries Service.

"Most of the shark bites come about this time of year when the water is murky and they come in close to give birth," Woodrum said.