Family, friends and fellow surfers are mourning the death of UCSB alumnus Stephen Schafer, who was killed less than two weeks ago in a fatal shark attack.
Schafer died of blood loss Wednesday, Feb. 3 after being attacked by a shark while kiteboarding off the coast of Florida. Schafer graduated from UCSB in 1993 with a degree in environmental studies. He was 38 years old at the time of his death.
Schafer, a lover of the outdoors and water sports, suffered from two separate wounds that caused him to lose half his blood. A bite to his buttocks and a bite to his upper thigh are believed to be inflicted by a nine-foot shark.
Schafer was swarmed by what appeared to be at least three sharks while kiteboarding about a quarter mile offshore, just south of Stuart Beach, Fla. Experts attribute this atypical shark behavior to an attempt at a meal, not merely an accidental attack which is more characteristic of sharks.
According to local news reports, Schafer also had a number of bruises and abrasions on his arms, signifying that he had tried to fend off the sharks during the attack. Had Schafer not pulled himself up onto his board, the attack would have likely continued.
Dan Lund, the lifeguard on duty at the time, pulled Schafer to shore, a press release said. From the shore, Lund identified that Schafer was in distress and paddled for nearly 20 minutes to reach him. While Schafer did make it back to the shore alive, he later died as a result of the injuries.
There is much debate over which type of shark was responsible for the attack; however, many experts stipulate either a bull or tiger shark.
A memorial for Schafer took place last weekend near where the attack occurred. Friends and surfers congregated in the water on their surfboards, forming what resembled a heart to commemorate Schafer.