About the Shark Research Committee

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Pacific Coast
Shark News

Sharks of the Pacific Coast

White Shark Biosketch

Distribution and Diet of Pacific Coast White Sharks

Predatory Behavior of Pacific Coast White Sharks

Shark/Human Interactions Along the Pacific Coast

Pacific Coast
Shark Attack

Fatal Pacific Coast Shark Attacks
1900  —  Present

Shark Attacks Along the Pacific Coast - 2000 —

Shark Attacks Along the Pacific Coast - 1990s

Case Histories of Unprovoked White Shark Attacks:


White Shark Interactions with Inanimate Objects


Shark Encounters:

White Shark Encounters Along the Pacific Coast

Soupfin Shark Encounter

Reporting Forms:

  Shark Attack

  Shark Encounter

  Shark Predation

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Recommended Links

Unprovoked White Shark Attacks on Kayakers

Only 5 (5%) of the 108 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast during the Twentieth Century involved kayakers. The first incident, and to date the only fatality for this victim group, occurred near Malibu/Paradise Cove, California, in 1989 and the last in the area of La Jolla Shores, California, in 1995. The White Shark was positively identified, or highly suspect, in all of the kayak attacks.

The following case remains one of the most mysterious of all Pacific Coast shark attacks occurring during the Twentieth Century.  This incident was widely reported in the media; however, the individual involved was never identified.  Attempts to locate this person continue to this day.

La Jolla Shores, San Diego County, California

On Saturday, 24 June 1995, an unidentified woman from the Sacramento, California, area was kayaking off La Jolla Shores, at La Jolla, San Diego County, California (about 3252.5' N; 11716.0' W). This was the location of Verne Fleet's Hammerhead Shark attack and Robert Pamperin's fatal White Shark attack, both in 1959, many years earlier. If authentic, this would be the third attack from this "recurring location" and the fifth attack on a female and a kayak. It was reported in several Southern California newspapers that a San Diego physician had removed a triangular-shaped, serrated tooth fragment from the victim's face. The physician confirmed that he had removed a tooth fragment from a patient and that it was serrated and triangular in shape. Unfortunately, he could not reveal any information regarding the injured person. Repeated attempts over the last six years to identify and/or locate this individual through kayaking organizations throughout California have been unsuccessful.

Only eight days following Rodney Swan's shark encounter, and at the same "recurring location," Matt Hinton's kayak was attacked by a White Shark, 150 meters off Trinidad Head and Beach, Humboldt County, California (4103.6' N; 12409.1' W). Hinton, age 44, was 20 to 30 meters seaward of a craggy exposed rock. The water there was 1 to 2 fathoms deep, with a temperature of 14C. At 1700 hours, Wednesday, 5 September 1990, the sky was clear and the air temperature was 20C. The sea was calm and exceptionally flat, with a small westerly swell undulating above the sandy ocean floor. No dominant kelps were noted at the attack location. There was a mild, 5-to-7-knot northwest breeze as the sun began to slip beneath the western horizon. Pinnipeds were seen earlier in Trinidad Harbor, but none near the attack location. However, there is a Harbor Seal haul-out site about 300 meters offshore at an exposed reef. The kayak was 2.7 meters in length and colored medium blue. Hinton was dressed in a full black wetsuit and had been kayaking 15 to 20 minutes. This was the second shark attack from this "recurring location."

As a large rolling wave approached the kayak, Hinton turned slightly toward shore and began paddling slowly. The wave carried him inshore for several meters before he made a gentle turn to parallel the beach, heading north. Within moments of changing course, the kayak was violently struck from below and behind the rider's cockpit. The kayak was lifted almost a meter out of the water before tipping over to starboard (the right side). Hinton recalled, 

"I had a pretty good idea of what was happening. I'd heard about Rodney's [Swan's] attack ten days previous at the same beach, and was not at all that surprised. When I was underwater, I looked to my left and saw the shark. It looked to me as though the shark had turned off to my left after hitting the boat and was now in a slow turn back to the right. As the shark's body curved away to its right, I was looking at the left profile only four or five feet away. The top of the shark was very dark, almost black, and the belly bright, gleaming white. The line of demarcation between the dark and light was very sharp and wavy. I estimated its size [length] to be 8 to 10 feet [approximately 2.5 to 3 meters]. I still had my paddle in my hands, and aimed a two-handed cross-body thrust at the shark's head. The next thing I knew, I was on the surface about 20 feet [about 6 meters] from my boat."

Hinton began the long swim to the beach, glancing back in fear that the shark might return. He held his paddle during the entire swim, which he estimated to take five minutes. Hinton had to wait on shore about 20 minutes before his kayak washed up into water shallow enough for him to wade out and retrieve it. He drained the kayak of water and spent about 10 minutes looking over its surface for evidence of the shark's attack.

In his 23 October 1999 letter, Matt Hinton wrote, somewhat disappointingly: "Following the attack I spent about ten minutes looking over the boat from stem to stern, hoping to find a tooth or two embedded in the hull. There were no teeth to be found; in fact, I couldn't even tell if there were any new scratches or gouges among all the old ones already present." Given the attacking shark's potential for inflicting injury, the kayaker was fortunate to have escaped unharmed.

If you, or someone you know, has been involved in a shark attack and would like to voluntarily participate in the Shark Research Committee's research program, please use the appropriate reporting form.

The material contained on this Web site is shared as a public service and to further the scientific goals of the Shark Research Committee.  All text and images on this Web site are the exclusive property of the Shark Research Committee.  Information on this Web site may be used for private study, but may not otherwise be published, duplicated, or modified in any way without the prior written permission of Ralph S. Collier.