Quincy native has close encounter with shark

Some of you may be familiar with "Shark Week."

That's when the Discovery Channel airs an entire week of programs about the fish and has been doing so for 23 years now.

Last week was Shark Week, but a Quincy native found himself up close and personal with the feared fish---not on the other side of a television screen.

KHQA's Rajah Maples spoke with him about his amazing tale of survival.

Duane Strosaker grew up in Quincy but moved to California when he was 15 years old.

He said, "My dad often took me boating on the Mississippi River in power boats, and I'd water ski. We'd enjoy the river and go fishing. So as a kid in Quincy, Illinois, I often had a fascination with the Mississippi River and just water bodies in general. So when I moved to California, that led to my fascination with the ocean. That's how I got into sea kayaking."

Last Monday, he was 5 miles off shore near Santa Barbara, when without any warning, a great white shark rose out of the water and clamped its jaws down on Strosaker's kayak.

Strosaker said, "My left foot was actually inside the jaws of a great white shark. Based on how huge its head was, they estimated it was about 15 feet long or longer."

What prevented you from being his lunch?

"According to the shark expert, it was just tasting me, it really didn't see me as prey," he answered. "So the shark was curious about me, and bit down to investigate."

So you didn't taste very good, is that what you're saying?

Strosaker said, "They're used to fatty blubber from a seal, so apparently plywood, fiberglass, and paint didn't taste nearly as good."

Thankfully for you!

"I'm very thankful," he said. "It was very scary to see that huge of a head and see its jaws wrap around my kayak. During the 10 to 15 seconds that the shark had ahold of me, I was actually screaming like a little girl."

Yet looking back, Strosaker has an interesting take on his near-death experience.

Strosaker said, "Everyday, we're all in danger on the highway. How many times have some of us come close to dying in a car accident? I kind of look at it in the same way. We all face dangers everyday, and we're all pretty lucky when we make it."

Strosaker kayaked between the Quincy Lock and Dam to Hannibal this past Saturday, which was his first paddle since his shark attack.

He said he was apparently a little skiddish.

Strosaker said he jumped a little every time he spotted a log floating in the river.