A wisecracking Boston native explained Friday why he thinks he survived the first great white shark attack on a Massachusetts swimmer since 1936: He just didn’t taste good.
“So I’m feeling very pleased to be here,” said Chris Myers, who grew up on Joy Street in Beacon Hill but now lives in Colorado. He was attacked Monday afternoon while swimming with his 16-year-old son, J.J., off the shores of Ballston Beach in Truro.
Speaking with reporters Friday at Massachusetts General Hospital, Myers said he felt a “huge bite on my leg’’ when the shark attacked.
“I was quite sure it was a shark,’’ he said. “It felt like my leg was caught in a vise. I kicked very hard with my free leg . . . and he let go.
“I figure the shark just didn’t like the taste of me,’’ said the Harvard University graduate, who teaches computer programming and digital design to elementary school students.
During a joint press conference, father and son said they decided to swim several hundred feet off the shore in hope of finding a good spot for breaking waves to body surf on. As they paddled out, J.J. asked his father a question, they recalled Friday.
“What do you think would happen if a shark came along?” J.J. asked.
“Well, we’d be history,” his father replied.
When they were some 400 to 500 feet off shore, the two decided a sandbar was too distant and decided to turn around and head back inland. That’s when a dark object sliced through the water between father and son.
Myers, 50, said he has only one way to describe the size of the animal that attacked him: big.
“It was almost like it just wanted to show us who it was, then go off to find that seal who it thought would be more tasty,” he said.
“But it just surfaced; it almost arched. We saw probably 6 or 8 feet of its back and its full dorsal fin.”
Once Myers was free of the shark’s jaws, he and his son began swimming furiously toward land.
“Seeing a shark is enough to get you swimming as fast as you can back to the beach,’’ J.J. said. “I didn’t feel the adrenaline as much as the shock, and I felt that however fast I swam, it was really up to the shark if he wanted to get me or not, because, you know, swim fast or not, the shark is going to be faster.”
During their inbound swim, Chris Myers told his son that the shark “bit me pretty badly,’’ but also made it clear to him that the wound was not going to be fatal.
Myers did say he felt dizzy and light-headed.
Once they got close to shore, people waded into the water to help them.
“Well, we’re not history,” the elder Myers said he told his son.
Myers said he did not feel any pain until he was riding in the ambulance to Cape Cod Hospital, where he was first treated before being sent to MGH.
Myers was bitten first in his lower left leg and suffered puncture wounds in his right leg when he kicked the shark in the snout.
The bite left four deep puncture wounds on each leg that required 47 stitches, and Myers sustained severed tendons in his left leg.
A cast on his left leg will probably be taken off Monday, and then Myers has a couple of weeks of physical rehabilitation. He said he may be walking comfortably again in a month.
Myers said he did not know seals were in the area of Ballston Beach and was not aware of great white shark sightings near Truro before he went into the water Monday.
If he had known seals were about, he might not have gone swimming, he said.
“Maybe I was the last person to hear that there were sharks off Cape Cod,” he said.
According to the state’s top shark scientist, Greg Skomal, Myers is probably the first person to be attacked by a great white shark in Massachusetts waters since 1936, when a teenager from Dorchester was killed while swimming at Crescent Beach in Mattapoisett.
Myers appeared to come away from his brush with the predator bearing a new appreciation of the food chain, both on land and at sea.
“I’ll be biting into a nice steak tonight, probably not thinking too hard about it, so I can’t get too mad at the shark either,” he said.