Numerous Shark Encounters in California, August 14–16, 2010

Numerous Shark Encounters in California, August 14–16, 2010

The Shark Research Committee has sent us a number of reports of shark encounters in the past week. We tend to only post the reports in central and northern California, as the one below from Pigeon Point, but this much activity raises interest along the entire state’s coast. Old Whitey seems to have it in for kayakers this year.

San Onofre State Beach —   On August 16, 2010 Abby Joseph and her son were Stand Up Paddle Boarding at Dog Patch, San Onofre State Beach. It was 8:30 AM and they had been on the water about 10 minutes. The sky was overcast with a light fog. Air and water temperatures were estimated in the mid-60 Fahrenheit. The ocean was flat and glassy with small waves. No marine mammals were observed in the area. Joseph reported:

“I was Stand Up Paddle Boarding with a 10′ 3″ board, orange bottom, yellow paddle. I first saw the shark when I had just paddled out. I noticed a fin about 20 feet out, Northwest from my location. I was pretty much by myself, except for my son who was nearby on a longboard. There was a group of about five standup paddlers and watercraft South of me. I pointed out the fin to my son. He did not see it. I saw the fin disappear, and did not see the shark swim away. I just thought I may have been imagining something. I continued to paddle around and catch waves. A group of guys were on the South end of Dog Patch and they remarked that a shark was swimming right by where I had been and told me to stay in the group and not fall off the board. The guys who talked to me had gone in. I kept talking to my son about it and he said if I really saw a shark I wouldn’t still be in the water. Right then, we heard some guys in the water talking about there being a ‘big one.’ I looked over and about 40 feet away saw the shark swimming through the group of SUP’s and kayaks/watercraft. I was able to see the fins and by the way the shark moved it was clearly not a dolphin. The dorsal fin was triangular, with part cut out. The second time I saw the dorsal fin, another fin, and the tail were also visible. It just skimmed the water and swam in and out of their group within just feet of the men. My son and I got out of the water. I think we had enough for the day. On the beach, I talked to the guys who had seen the shark. One of the men who had been near the shark said that it was about 10 feet long, which he said was as long as his paddle board.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.

La Jolla —   On August 15, 2010 Mike Lee, Staff Writer, Union-Tribune, San Diego, posted the following:

“Shark sightings prompt warnings at La Jolla. San Diego lifeguards are warning beachgoers to be alert after two reported sightings of a possible Great White Shark on Sunday afternoon, one by a kayaker and the other by a lifeguard, said Maurice Luque, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman. He said lifeguards are advising beach visitors on Monday ‘to use their own judgment as to whether or not they want to go into the water.’ The advisory spans the area from La Jolla Cove to the Scripps Pier. It is among the most heavily used coastal zones in the region, drawing swimmers, kayakers, sun bathers and others. The first incident was Sunday morning when a kayaker said he spotted a shark about two miles offshore that was longer than his boat, said Lifeguard Sgt. Rich Stropky. At about 4:30 PM lifeguards in the main tower spotted a fin roughly 50 yards offshore near Tower 30 at the Southern end of Kellogg Park. Stropky said they just saw the fin for a couple of seconds, but it was ‘in character with a shark, not in character with a porpoise.’ Lifeguards put an extra patrol boat in the water on Sunday afternoon and plan to continue precautionary measures on Monday. ‘We are not saying stay out of the water. We are saying this is a little unusual,’ Stropky said. ‘We know that there are sharks out there in the water. What is unusual about this is that it came so close to the shore in an area where there are swimmers in the water.’ Fear of sharks runs deep partly because, April 25, 2008, a swimmer was killed by a Great White Shark during a group workout near Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach.“ Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.

Pigeon Point —   On August 14, 2010 Adam Coca was kayaking off Bean Hollow Beach just North of Pigeon Point, California. The following was obtained from Adam Coca’s written description with additional information provided by Allan Bushnel, Journalist, Santa Cruz Sentinel:

“Coca said, I was South of Bean Hollow Beach off those beaches toward Pigeon Point on the San Mateo coast. I stopped to fish in about 30 feet of water when I felt the shark strike the nose of my boat from below, like boom, then KABOOM! It flipped the boat over and I was half-way in the water. The shark was chewing on the bow of my boat while swimming in a circle. We must have done three or four circles like that with the shark pushing and chewing on my boat. I was finally able to climb atop my boat, while the shark continued to chew on the nose. My boat is 13 feet in length and the shark was at least as long, maybe longer. The Great White Shark became tangled in my leash and might have been distracted by the flailing paddle, which it did bite and severe my leash. The shark submerged and disappeared. I flipped my boat over and jumped in and hung on to the rails and braced myself, waiting for the next strike, which never came. I had made a distress call on my VHF radio which brought other kayakers to my location quickly. They helped me collect my floating gear that had been dislodged from the kayak when it flipped over. The bite marks on the bottom of the boat measured 18 inches at the widest portion of the arc, and the individual tooth marks were about 2 inches apart.” This is a preliminary report. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available. This represents the fourth, authenticated, unprovoked shark attack from the Pacific Coast for this year. It is the second attack on a kayaker in less than two weeks. Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.

Point Dume —   On August 14, 2010 Gerry Wallfesh reported the following:

“This morning I was SUP surfing at Little Dume in Malibu. I was paddling back to Westward Beach around 11:30 AM when I saw what looked like a Great White Shark. I was approximately 200 feet offshore near the entrance to Point Dume when I saw the shark. I observed the shark swim towards my board and then veer further offshore as we passed one another.  My board is 10′ 6” and I would estimate the shark to be 8 – 10 feet in length with a grayish black color. Waves were 1 – 3 feet and there was a 1 – 2 foot swell/chop when I was paddling back to Westward Beach. Approximately 2 – 3 minutes after my sighting, as I continued my paddle back, there were a few Dolphins nearby that were slapping their tails against the ocean surface repeatedly. In addition, approximately 15 minutes after the sighting, I saw another pod of Dolphins near Tower 5 at Westward Beach. There were approximately 10 Dolphins in the pod and they were maybe 50 feet offshore. They remained in this spot for a few minutes.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.

Sunset Beach —   On August 14, 2010 Jonathan Cohen was surfing at Sunset Beach, California. It was 8:30 AM and he had been on the water about 20 minutes. Air and water temperatures were estimated in the upper-60s Fahrenheit. The sky was overcast and the surf was described as ‘slight onshore.’ No marine mammals were observed in the area. Cohen reported: “I was sitting with five or so other surfers at the North end of Sunset Beach about 40 yards offshore. About 100 yards from us toward the horizon a shark breached completely out of the water, shot straight up, then flipped back into the sea. From our distance it was difficult to make out any details other than its underside was white and it was easily 6 feet in length.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.

Photo: Michael Heilemann

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