Pacific Coast Shark News 2014
The following reports for 2014 are provided as a public service. They are intended to inform our visitors of current shark activities along the Pacific Coast of North America. To review Pacific Coast Shark News for 2003 click here, for 2004 click here, for 2005 click here, for 2006 news click here, for 2007 click here, for 2008 click here, for 2009 news click here, for 2010 news click here, for 2011 news click here, for 2012 news click here and for 2013 click here.
Notice I want to thank those of you that have made a contribution to the Shark Research Committee this year. Your financial support has been instrumental in funding our pioneering DNA research. If you haven't made a contribution yet, I would to ask you as someone that truly cares about our oceans and the sharks that live in them what would you be willing to give to help complete a DNA study with shark conservation benefits? Could you give – $10, $20, $50 or more? This 'new' methodology will allow researchers to obtain DNA with a noninvasive procedure, without removing a shark from its natural environment and exposing it to potential organ and vascular injury, that could result in serious health consequences. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the Shark Research Committee and help us – “Save the Sharks – Save the Oceans”
San Onofre State Beach On April 15, 2014 Frederik Boll was surfing with four unidentified companions 50 yards from shore at San Onofre State Beach, Trail One. It was 6:00 PM and he had been on the water about one hour. The sky was partly cloudy with the estimated air temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The sea was glassy and calm with very poor water visibility of only 2 feet and an estimated water temperature of 57 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit. A single pinniped was observed about 30 minutes following the encounter with “small schools of baitfish jumping once in a while.” Boll reported;“We were sitting on our boards approximately 50 yards out. In between sets we noticed some water churning about 10 yards further out than our location and then saw the dorsal and caudal fin. The shark stayed in that location for a couple of minutes. I asked the other surfers if we should go in but they said that they see them all the time in this area so we all stayed out. About 10 minutes later when I was paddeling back out I saw it again as it cruised by my board. It was about 6ft long and girthy. It looked grey from my vantage point which leads me to believe it was a salmon shark or a small great white. It cruised around the lineup for 10 – 15 minutes then disappeared and wasn't seen again.” California Grunion spawns are frequently associated with the appearance of juvenile White Sharks at Southern California beaches. The Grunion spawn was anticipated to begin on the 15th and end on the 18th of April. Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.
San Francisco On March 25, 2014 Federal U.S. District Judge William Orrick III of San Francisco, upheld California's ban on possession or sale of shark fins, rejecting claims that the law discriminates against the Chinese community – where shark fin soup is a traditional delicacy – or interferes with federal management of ocean fishing. The California law, passed in 2011, took full effect in July 2013, when the possession of shark fins became illegal. It was challenged by Bay Area organizations of Chinese American businesses and by shark fin suppliers, who argued that the legislation targeted the Chinese community and exceeded the state's authority to regulate fishing. The Federal Government changed its position after discussions with California Fish & Wildlife officials. It said the two laws could be harmonized, with federal regulations governing shark fishing and the stricter California rules applying within the state. Orrick said, “The state law would have more of an effect on the Chinese American community than it would elsewhere, but federal courts require proof of intentional discrimination to overturn a law, and there was no such evidence in this case. People of Chinese origin or culture undoubtedly overwhelmingly comprise the market for shark fin. However, a law is not unconstitutional simply because it has a racially disparate impact." In his decision Orrick said,“The law applies equally throughout the state and was based on legislative findings that the California shark fin market boosted the market for shark finning, which was contributing to the decline of a species critical to the health of the ocean's ecosystem.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.
Goleta Point On March 13, 2014 Peter Howorth, Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center, reported the following; “A sub-adult northern elephant seal washed ashore near the mouth of the lagoon at Goleta Point in Santa Barbara County. It had two large bites, one around its neck and the other farther back near the shoulder. It also had bites around the hind flippers. The specimen was in an advanced state of decomposition and probably died 1 ½ to 2 weeks ago. From the wounds, I think it's very possible that the shark killed the seal because of the location of the large bites on the neck and shoulder. Had the shark been scavenging, it would more likely have fed on the carcass without selecting such places to bite.” Examination of the wounds clearly show individual tissue bridges along the periphery of the two distinct bites to the neck and head of the seal. Interspace Measurements of these bridges is consistent with a juvenile white shark 7 – 8 feet in length. This report is ‘old news', however because of the relevancy of juvenile white sharks attacking adult pinnipeds along the Pacific Coast. Peter Howorth reported several similar events in 2013 and 2012. Historically, observed wounds on pinnipeds were inflicted by sub-adult and/or adult white sharks, more than 10 feet in length. Whether this is a new hunting strategy for juvenile white sharks, or simply an event that was never, or seldom, observed before, is unknown. We will continue to monitor these unique predatory events of juvenile white sharks. Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.
San Onofre State Beach On February 17, 2014 Julie Holmes was Sand Up Paddleboarding at Trail One, San Onofre State Beach. It was 1:15 PM and she had been on the water about 30 minutes. The sky was clear with an estimated air temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The sea was calm with the water 20 – 30 feet deep over a sandy ocean bottom with rocks scattered throughout the area. Water visibility was about 10 feet with an estimated temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Holmes reported;“I was sitting about 15 feet from another surfer to my left with about 6 to my right waiting for a set to come in. I looked down when I noticed something swimming toward me. I realized it was a shark and it swam alongside me, which is how I figured out what it was and it's length. It was a juvenile white shark about 7 feet in length. It looked right at me and when I said ‘There's a shark right here,' it turned toward the surfer to my left and then it swam away and disappeared. It was swimming slowly and just seemed to be checking us out. No one exited the water. I surfed for another 30 minutes and got out. Shark wasn't spotted again.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.
Worldwide Shark Attacks 2013
As the Director of the Global Shark Attack File the following Shark Attack data was confirmed and authenticated for 2013. It is provided as a public service to emphasize the rarity of these interactions when the number of ocean users, their total contact hours on or in the water is reviewed and compared to other hazards humans face in their daily lives. Additional information is available at; www.sharkattackfile.net .
Pacific Coast Shark Attacks During 2013
There were 5 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast of North America during 2013. There were 4 attacks recorded from California and 1 from Oregon. The attacks were distributed in the following months; June (1), August (2), October (1) and November (1). Activities of the victims were; 3 Surfing, 1 Kayaking, and 1 Swimming. The Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was positively identified or highly suspect in 4 of the 5 attacks, with a juvenile Salmon Shark, Lamna ditropis , the suspected causal species for the attack on the swimmer.
The publication “Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century” authenticated 108 unprovoked shark attacks from the Pacific Coast between 1900 and 1999. The Great White Shark was implicated in 94 (87%) of the 108 confirmed attacks with an annual average of slightly more than one shark attack per year. The 5 cases reported for 2013 brings the total number of unprovoked shark attacks occurring along the Pacific Coast during the 21 st Century to 77. This is ‘three times' the Twentieth Century annual average of slightly more than 2 shark attack per year during the period 1950 – 1999. The Great White Shark was positively identified or highly suspect in 67 (88%) of the 77 attacks recorded during the 21 st Century. From 2000 to the present, 38 (49%) of the 77 confirmed shark attacks occurred during the three month period of August (12), September (9), and October (17). There have been 185 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast of North America from 1900 to 2013. The Great White Shark was positively identified or highly suspect in 161 (87%) of the 185 cases. There were 8 fatal shark attacks confirmed from 1900 to 1999 and 5 fatal attacks reported from 2000 to 2013. The 13 fatal attacks represent 7% of the 185 total cases.
Victim activity for the 77 shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast since 2000 are distributed in the following ocean user groups; surfers 51 (66%) of the documented attacks, with 6 swimmers (8%), 9 kayakers (12%), 4 divers (5%), 4 paddle boarders (5%), 1 windsurfer (1%), 1 fishing (1%), and 1 boogie boarder (1%). The number of shark-bitten stranded marine mammals reported in 2013 was greater than the prior year, especially in Santa Barbara County. The location and time of year, would suggest an increase in the number of Great White Sharks utilizing those specific areas, however, this might not be the result of an increase in their population but rather locations being targeted by sharks migrating to northern regions. The Shark Research Committee will continue to closely monitor these activities.
San Onofre State Beach On January 19, 2014 Dave Schulte was observing the surf a little North of Trail One, San Onofre State Beach. It was 1:00 PM and the air and water temperatures were estimated at 70 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. No marine mammals were observed in the area. Schulte reported;“I was on the bluff above an area known as ‘Echo Arch' just North of Trail One. While observing the surf conditions I saw a juvenile Great White Shark, about 5 feet in length, breach as it was heading North just outside the surf line about 50 yards from shore. Water visibility was 10 feet as I could easily observe the shark from my vantage point. I stayed another 15 minutes and saw it only briefly as it surfaced in the same area for a brief moment, then sounded.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.
Ocean Beach On January 4, 2014 Jeffrey Wolfert was surfing at Ocean Beach, San Francisco. It was 7:30 AM and he had been on the water about 20 minutes. The sky was clear with a brisk breeze and an estimated air temperature in the 50s Fahrenheit. There was a wind and ground swell over a sandy ocean bottom 15 feet deep and an estimated water temperature in the upper 40s Fahrenheit. No marine mammals were observed in the area. Wolfert recalled;“While sitting on my board waiting for a set I saw a triangular shaped dorsal fin pop up about 30 yards away. It cruised across the surface for about 15 yards toward me and another surfer, then submerged out of sight. I saw no other part of the shark.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.