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Pacific Coast Shark News 2018

The following reports for 2018 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 for 2013 click here for 2014 click here for 2015 click here for 2016 click here and for 2017 click here .


Santa Barbara  —   On May 13, 2018 Nathaniel Hunter was surfing at Mesa Lane Beach in Santa Barbara. It was about 10:00 AM with an overcast sky and a glassy sea surface with little to no wind. Hunter reported the following;"I went surfing at Mesa Lane early Sunday morning. I entered the water around 9:00 AM. While sitting in the lineup for about an hour I noticed a commotion out by the kelp beds to the left of the reef about 100 yards from shore. After a couple seconds I noticed a large dorsal fin resembling that of a White Shark. I see Dolphins out at Mesa Lane all the time and have become quite familiar with their shape. For about 15 – 20 seconds the White Shark seemed to be thrashing around and feeding on some sort of prey. Throughout the entire encounter, I saw parts of the dorsal and tail fin quite clearly. Once the commotion ended, I didn't see any trace of the shark or of any prey in the vicinity." Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


San Onofre State Beach   —   On May 8, 2018 Mark Wolff was surfing 'Middles Trestles,' about 50 yards south of the lifeguard station, at San Onofre State Beach. It was about 2:30 PM and he had been on the water 15 – 20 minutes. The sky was clear with a mild NW breeze and an estimated air temperature of 67 degrees Fahrenheit. He was about 35 – 50 yards from shore with a slight textured to the sea surface over a cobblestone reef 8 feet deep with comparable visibility as the bottom could be viewed from the surface. Wolff reported;"I was surfing alone at Middles Trestles when I heard a disturbance in the water about 50 feet due South of my position. I saw a small Sea Lion's head peek above the surface as the water appeared to boil around it. I continued watching and realized it was being attacked by a shark. In the few seconds I lingered, I saw the shark's white underbelly, a pectoral fin, the dorsal fin, and its caudal fin. I could also see a great deal of blood in the water. I paddled to shore as fast as I could and was joined by someone walking by. As we watched the attack, the shark surfaced several more times. The shark moved so quickly that it almost looked as if there were 2 sharks in the water. It looked like a White Shark but it might have been bigger than the 6 – 8 foot White Sharks we typically see, but I only caught quick glimpses of it as it thrashed around in the water. Within a few minutes, seagulls began circling above the shark, but the birds only circled and didn't dive. The shark appeared to leave the area immediately after the attack. I didn't see which way it went. The birds lingered a for a few  minutes then slowly dispersed. I immediately reported the event to the lifeguards at Camp Pendleton. On my way, I met another surfer who said he saw a small Sea Lion swimming North from Church a few minutes prior to the attack." Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


San Onofre State Beach   —   On May 6, 2018 Leo Simone was surfing 'Old Man's' at San Onofre State Beach. It was 1:35 PM and he had been on the water about 20 minutes. Air and water temperatures were estimated at 70 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit , respectively. There was a 2 – 3 foot swell and light chop over a sandy ocean bottom 8 – 10 feet deep with 5 – 10 feet of underwater visibility. Simone reported; "I went back in for a second session after a two hour morning session. I caught a wave rode it and as I approached the line up while paddling back out I noticed that the other surfers, 6 or 8, we’re laying on their boards and appeared to be following my activity. When I was approximately 30 – 40 feet from the group they said; 'It's coming your way.' I looked in front of me and saw the shark as it was about 10 feet directly in front of me. I remained laying on top of the board as it crossed diagonally  under the nose of my board from left to right and swam along the right side of my board in the direction of the shore. It was close enough to touch. It turned back toward the group of other surfers on the lineup. The dorsal fin broke the water twice and that was the last that saw of it. I caught the next wave in and called it a day. The shark did not act in an aggressive manner. It swam slowly. It was about 8 feet in length with a girth  of 18 – 24 inches and a dark triangular shaped dorsal fin. When I spoke to other surfers that were out there they said there was a total of three sharks in the area, and the one that I saw was the larger of the three." Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Manhattan Beach   —   On April 26, 2018 Chris Claypool was surfing El Porto in Manhattan Beach. It was 5:30 PM and he had been on the water about 25 minutes. Water temperature was estimated at 58 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The water was 10 feet deep with a choppy sea surface over a sandy ocean bottom. Air temperature was estimated in the low 60s Fahrenheit with a brisk wind and a clear sky. There were 3 – 5 dolphins observed in the area prior to the encounter. Claypool reported;“Before the encounter I noticed several pelicans dive bombing in proximity to me. I had just paddled for a wave and missed it. I hadn't gone very far in from where I attempted to catch the wave, and turned around to the horizon in a sort of sitting position on my surfboard when I saw a very large dorsal fin, that was triangular in shape. It had already come out of the water and was on its way back down. The shark was grey, and very large, with a dorsal fin about 2 feet high. I estimate the shark to be about 2 to 2.5 times the length of my 5 foot 4 inch Fish design surfboard. I could see its back and its tail. I have seen juveniles before and this did not look like a juvenile, which is why I turned around before it fully submerged and headed in to shore. A small wave came in and I paddled as quickly and quietly as I could. I got out and followed the shark as it swam from North to South. I lost it after about 100 feet of walking.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee. 


Carpinteria   —   On April 11, 2018 Peter Howorth, Director of the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center, reported the following; "An adult harbor seal was attacked at the Carpinteria seal rookery shortly after 0900 hrs. this morning. It came ashore bleeding heavily. It had a flap of skin hanging from its back, typical of the upper jaws of a white shark, and slash marks on its belly, typical of the holding pattern from the lower jaw of a white shark. The shark was estimated at 9 or 10 feet long, considerably smaller than the shark that killed two harbor seals on Wednesday, March 28. It (harbor seal) was harassed by gulls and went into and out of the water several times. It was active, but it is not known whether or not it will survive." Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Carpinteria   —   On March 29, 2018 Duke Howard reported the following; "I paddled again today. It was sunny with 3 – 5 feet of underwater visibility. I observed a Great White Shark, about 7 feet in length, 30 – 40 yards from  shore between Slough Creek and Padaro Point. I noticed what I believe to be a tag on its dorsal fin. Sometime later I came upon a second shark about the same size but with no tag. Again, they were unconcerned with my board and me." Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Carpinteria   —   March 28, 2018 Peter Howorth, Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center, reported the following in the Santa Barbara News Press, March 30, 2018; "Two harbor seals were killed by a great white shark off Carpinteria on Wednesday. A witness, who was not identified, told Carpinteria Seal Watch volunteer Curt Coughlin at about 9:30AM Wednesday that he had just witnessed the attacks. The person showed up out of breath at the observation point on the bluff above the rookery and said, 'Your seal count will be two short today.' He explained that he had just seen a great white leap out of the water near shore with a seal in its mouth and that he had seen another seal attacked at the same location the same morning. Mr. Coughlin checked the rookery and saw no signs of the attacks. He went further east and saw a harbor seal with a large bite out of its back.  He estimated the bite diameter at about 18 inches. A shark of that size would have been approximately 14 to 16 feet long, either an immature great white or a young adult. The seal was prone in the surf and Mr. Coughlin thought it was still alive because its head was moving, but soon realized that it was just being pushed by small waves. The News-Press received the report late that afternoon. On Thursday, the beach was examined from the rookery down to Rincon Point, over a mile east, but no signs of any injured seals were seen. The park host was informed and checked the area again Friday but saw nothing. On Friday, however, one, or possibly two, shark-bitten, dead harbor seals washed ashore at Carpinteria State Beach, according to lifeguards. Also, a California sea lion came ashore with its intestines hanging out.  It went back out to sea but is not expected to survive.  It may have also been a victim of a shark attack. The beach was surveyed Friday afternoon, but no animals, either living or dead, were found. An oil industry worker mentioned that he had seen a small great white from the Casitas Pier in Carpinteria in February and a 12 to 14-footer two weeks ago." The SBMMC and the Shark Research Committee have corroborated on numerous shark/pinniped projects for more than 30 years. Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.   


Carpinteria   —   On March 28, 2018 Duke Howard reported the following; "I went paddleboarding earlier today. At about 11:00 AM it was sunny with limited water visibility. I observed two juvenile Great White Sharks, each about 7 feet in length, 30 yards from the beach and 0.5 miles up from my house in the cove between Padaro Point and Santa Claus Beach. They did not appear to be that interested in my SUP or me. One was on the surface in front of me with its dorsal fin exposed and the other was to the rear.  At about 2:00 PM I went for a second paddle and saw two juvenile Great White Sharks each about 7 feet in length. They probably were the same sharks I had observed earlier in the day. However, this time they were only three or four houses from my  entry location just above the 'Slough Creek.' They were still fairly close to each other and again were unconcerned by my presence." Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Carpinteria   —   On March 19, 2018 Duke Howard reported the following; "Just in from a paddle. Calm. Limited water visibility. Sunny. Went to Point (Padaro) and back. Saw a seal and about six or seven dolphins. Saw a 6 – 7 foot white shark right in front of my house when I got back. It crossed my bow, under the water, about as close as 3 feet in front of me on its way out. It is not too deep where I encounter the shark. Maybe about 20 yards out just outside the small breakers. This took place about 1:20 PM." Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Torrey Pines State Beach   —   On March 23, 2018 Tony B. (last name withheld) reported the following; "I  was surfing at North Torrey Pines State Beach, San Diego. It was 8:30 AM and I had been in the water about 30 minutes. The water was 8 feet deep with a sandy bottom and a recorded temperature of 59 degrees. There were 3 – 4 foot swells with the surface water calm beyond the surf line. The sky was partly cloudy with a temperature of 63 degrees and a slight bump on the water. I was sitting  on my board about 30 yards from shore waiting for a wave. I had seen several dolphins earlier that morning, which was not unusual. I suddenly notice a very large, at least 24 inches high, black triangular fin surface 20 yards south of me. The shark came from the south heading north in the surf line. The shark then descended with the fin going completely underwater. I would estimate the distance from the dorsal fin to the tail to be about 7 feet. I went ashore with a group of other surfers. Several of them had chased down park and recreation lifeguards to report the incident. I have been surfing this area for more than 15 years and have never seen anything like this. I am extremely familiar with the abundance of the local mammals and sharks but this one was very large and very close to shore. The size and shape of the dorsal fin, and distance from it to the tail, suggests a White Shark as the species most likely involved in this encounter. Caution should be exercised when utilizing this location for your ocean water activities." Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.  


Bolinas   —   On February 4, 2018 Caleb Arata was surfing about 100 feet from shore at the Channel in Bolinas. It was 9:50 AM and he had been on the water about 45 minutes. It was an incoming tide with a 1 – 2 foot swell and a light ‘chop’ to the sea surface. The sky was clear with an estimated air temperature of 56 degrees Fahrenheit. Some 10 – 20 minutes prior to seeing the shark in the channel, I caught a wave and surfed all the way to the Stinson Beach side of the channel, where I saw a seal in about ankle deep water. It was about 10 feet away from me before it swam out into deeper water. Arata recalled; “There were about 100 surfers and a single kayaker in the Bolinas Channel, between Bolinas and Stinson Beach. I was sitting inside to catch small waves, while the occasional 3 foot wave would break 50 feet further out. There were 2 – 3 surfers further out, to catch the occasional 3 foot wave. Looking out to sea I saw the dorsal fin of a shark slowly pierce the top of the water. It was past where the larger waves would break, I would estimate 75 feet from me and 25 feet from the surfer’s further out. The fin and side of the shark were grey. It gently rolled sideways, and I saw a glimpse of white from its belly. This was not a fast or violent movement. The shark, now somewhat sideways, sank back under the water and was not seen again. It is hard to estimate size beyond the fact that the shark was large. The surfers I could see between me and the shark, 50 – 100 feet away, were on longboards, 8 – 11 feet in length. Judging from the part of the shark visible, I would estimate the total length of the shark to be greater than the length of a longboard. At least two other people saw the shark. While I have never seen a white shark in person, I do not know what else it could be. I am familiar with the appearance of white sharks from photographs and documentaries.  We informed the sole kayaker of the sighting, which he seemed to understand. He proceeded to paddle out to roughly where the shark was seen, and last I saw he was by himself, catching waves. We cautiously made our way to the beach.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


January 24, 2018        NEWS RELEASE             Pacific Coast Shark Attacks During 2017

There were 9 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast of North America during 2017, with none fatal. There were 8 attacks recorded from California and 1 from Washington. The attacks were distributed in the following months; March (1), April (1), July (4) August (1), November (1), and December (1). There was 1 shark attack reported south of the southern Santa Barbara County line, with the remaining 8 attacks from Santa Barbara County north. The single Washington shark attack occurred at the Grays Harbor jetty in Westport. Activities of the victims were; Kayaking 4, Surfing 2, Paddleboarding 1, Freediving 1, and Swimming 1. The Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was positively identified or highly suspect in all 9 of the attacks. 

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 9 cases reported for 2017 brings the total number of unprovoked shark attacks occurring along the Pacific Coast during the 21st Century to 103. This is ‘six times’ the Twentieth Century annual average of slightly more than one shark attack per year. The Great White Shark was positively identified or highly suspect in 92 (89%) of the 103 attacks recorded during the 21st Century. From 2000 to the present, 51 (50%) of the 103 confirmed shark attacks occurred during the three month period of August (16), September (13), and October (22). There have been 211 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast of North America from 1900 thru 2017. The Great White Shark was positively identified or highly suspect in 186 (88%) of the 211 cases. There were 8 fatal shark attacks confirmed from 1900 to 1999 and 5 fatal attacks reported from 2000 to 2017. The 13 fatal attacks represent 6% of the 211 total cases. 

Victim activity for the 103 shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast since 2000 are distributed in the following ocean user groups; surfing 62 (60%), kayaking 17 (17%), swimming 8 (8%), diving 6 (6%), paddleboarding 6 (6%), outrigger 1 (1%), windsurfing 1 (1%), fishing 1 (1%), and boogie boarding 1 (1%). There was an increase in the number of Great White Shark observations, encounters, and interactions with ‘pinnipeds,’ reported in 2017. The Shark Research Committee will continue to closely monitor these activities.


Carpinteria    On January 2, 2018 Emma Huebner was Stand-Up-Paddleboarding with her father and sister between Padaro and Summerland Beaches in Carpinteria. It was 2:30 PM and they had been on the water about 1.5 hours. The sky was overcast with an estimated air temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit. The ocean was calm with 1 – 2 feet of water visibility and an estimated temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit. No marine mammals were observed in the area. Huebner reported; "According to my dad and sister, who were behind me paddling in, the shark appeared to be following me as I paddled toward shore. We were about 200 yards offshore when I saw the shark and started in immediately when I saw the shark. My dad said that the shark followed me for a bit before disappearing beneath the surface. I observed the shark's  dorsal fin and tail fin surface right next to my paddleboard, towards the back of the board. My dad and sister were in kayaks and observed the shark as well. Estimation of the shark's length compared to the length of my board was 9 feet." Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.  




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