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White Shark Season Heating Up in SoCal

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

great white shark

Looks like it’s that time of year again…As we come upon the one year anniversary (April 25) of the great white shark attack on Dr. David Martin in Solana Beach, whitey sightings and apparent near-misses are popping up with more frequency. Why this time of year? The consensus among marine biologists seems to suggest that white sharks from Northern California that migrate south for the winter to feed or give birth are making their way back. Breaks at Swamis, Oceanside, Newport, and a few others located along the Southern California coast have all experienced shark sightings over the past few weeks. However, it was a terrifying encounter off of La Jolla a couple of days ago that really has everyone making the occasional peek below…

“As I swam toward him I realized he had shot a White Sea Bass and it was tangled 60 feet below in the kelp. First dive down, I looked for it and saw the fish then looked around 360 degrees for any toothy predator, then came up. The WSB was at least 50 pounds. I asked my buddy if he needed help cutting up the kelp and bringing the fish up. He said “yes.” I made the 2nd dive to the fish. Once again, I scanned 360 degrees, nothing was around. I cut the kelp carefully so as not to cut the reel line. My knife was in my left hand and in my right hand I held the fish. I noticed the small green fish that frequent the kelp suddenly got spooked as I looked to my right. I saw a large dark object coming at me. That is when I freaked out seeing her nose, gums, and those teeth. I’m staring at the mouth of a 12 – 15 foot Great White Shark, 10 feet away and closing in.”

Keep in mind, Dr. Martin’s death last year was the first confirmed white shark fatality in over 50 years in the San Diego area. The chances of that happening again anytime soon are pretty much nadas… With that said though, who doesn’t like a good shark story? It’s our guilty little pleasure, and something to keep in mind when paddling out this time of year.

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

Is Whitey Back at San Onofre?

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

sharkSome say they are drawn in by the schools of grunion, others will tell you it’s the water content created by run-off from the nuclear power plant that sits perched atop the cliffs overlooking the popular surf spot. My personal hope is that it’s part of their plan to start thinning out the rapidly growing population of stand-up paddleboarders. Whatever the reason may be, great white sharks have been continually drawn in and attracted to the waters of San Onofre in Southern California, and they are once again turning heads and making their presence known.

“Over a one month period, ending with today February 1, 2009, I have had 3 encounters at the same location. The ocean floor at this location is primarily sand with a few scattered rocky areas. Only on one of occasion did we observe a seal swimming North about 100 yards offshore. It didn’t seem to be alarmed. In each case, we were paddling South toward the South end of the power plant. We were going to surf a beach break at that location. In each case, we saw the shark(s) at approximately the same location each time”

The month of January has been abnormally busy for white shark sightings in an area that is becoming known for it’s true resident locals…the kind that will eat you instead of just punching you out. While a few of the sightings have made headlines in area newspapers, a great place to keep tabs on the shark situation in San O’ and the rest of the Pacific Coast waters is Shark Research Committee. On top of documenting sightings and encounters without the hype that comes from trying to sell newspapers or drive traffic, there is all sorts of educational and informative content to be found there. The type of content that actually lets you know that while there have been many sightings in the area, the sharks who at times see fit to call San Onofre home have never bothered anyone. Do they make it a bit spooky at times? Definitely. Is it something to get worked up about? Nah, not really. And the numbers back me up on this. Just use caution my friends.

Posted in Surfing | 2 Comments »

Another Deadly Shark Attack Has Surfers Tripping Out

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

killer whale surfingC’mon, admit it…. you know you kind of get a rise out of shark attack stories. Most of us do, it’s our guilty little pleasure and exactly the reason that nearly every single surfing website has some version of the recent Australia shark encounter stories gracing their home page right now. The numbers don’t lie, the people are interested in reading about these unfortunate encounters.

Surfing’s intertwining of man with nature is part of what makes it so unique. I’m not sure that there is another sport throughout the world that even comes close to allowing these types of interactions. While it’s the occasional negative interactions that draw all the interest and appear more sexy, for every one of those there are a countless number of other incredible and positive interactions taking place between surfers and marine life every single day. They may not get the traffic as headline stories, but they are part of what makes surfing so magical and far outweigh the 1 in a Gazillion chance you have of becoming part of the food chain each time you paddle out.

On that note, and out of fairness to all of our ocean-living friends who aren’t trying to munch on our legs, here are a few stories and images of just how incredible being out in the ocean can be. Shark attack stories may get all the headlines, but they are just a tiny, tiny part of what really takes place when we’re out in the water.

“Running of the Dolphins” – Sea of Cortez

“Shamu Regulates the Line-Up” – New Zealand

“Shark Stomps a 1280 as Mind-Blown Surfers Look On”

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

Surfer Beats Up Shark, Saves Cousin

Monday, January 12th, 2009

shark bite surfboard

It was a busy weekend for the sharks, as we’ve now seen three attacks over that last couple days. The latest, a 13-year-old girl in Australia was bit by a 15-foot shark. Upon seeing this, her 20-year-old cousin quickly paddled over and started beating the hell out of the shark until it let go. He then lifted his cousin onto his board and paddled into shore, with the shark circling them the entire way in.

“I paddled over to try to get as close as I could to try to stick my thumb in its eye, but I missed and we were just hitting it…

…She climbed up on my back, but there was that much blood in the water I didn’t really know … whether she could stay awake on my back. We started paddling. The shark was behind us. Then it was underneath us. We just stopped and tried to face it so we could slap it again.”

Like avalanches, this is quickly shaping up to be a year filled with reports of news that will make an enthusiasts think twice before they venture into territory that has an increased element of risk.

The girl suffered a bite on her leg that went all the way to the bone but she is expected to have a near-full recovery. She is reportedly doing well and in high spirits. Her board didn’t fare so well, but it should make for a nice souvenir. Or, if you’re a 13-year-old girl, it would probably serve as a reminder that will give you nightmares the rest of your life. Her cousin however, will have one hell of a story to tell chicks at the bar.

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

Shark Attack in New South Wales

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

A 31-year-old male was attacked today by a shark in the waters off of Fingal Heads Beach in New South Wales. The surfer was bit on the leg while sitting on his board about 100 yards offshore near a pod of dolphins.

New South Wales beaches have been closed after a shark attack at Fingal Heads where a surfer wrapped his leg rope around his thigh to stop bleeding.

There are a couple things that make this story interesting, besides that fact that the dude just got munched on by a shark. First, he was near a pod of dolphins. I have no scientific evidence that surfing next to dolphins is any safer, but for me personally, I’ve always felt more at ease when there are dolphins in the water. Maybe it’s that YouTube video where a dolphin saves a woman who is clearly about to get eaten by a larger Tiger. Whatever it is, I guess I can no longer count on dolphins as my security blanket. The second thing that caught my attention was the brilliant use of a leash that would make even McGyver proud. Apparently leashes are useful for things other then making it so I don’t have to swim all the way into shore everytime I fall.

At this point it is unclear what type of shark attacked this man. Although he is in critical condition, the injury is not life threatening. Here’s to a speedy recovery.

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

November’s “Super-Fresh Headline of the Month” Goes To…

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Our friends over at Surfersvillage for this little bit of gold-

“Tiger shark caught devouring goat – Whale shark shits..”

No matter what your interest level is regarding Tiger sharks, Whale sharks, goats, or shit, the title just makes you feel like you should probably check this one out. Both of the encounters shared interesting reads and images, as well as were completely unrelated.
Also, because the Whale shark is such a fascinating, beautiful creature, it makes the image of grown men getting this worked-up over an animal’s poo, even to the point of swimming after it, not so funky. The ocean’s creatures are in need of many more passionate caretakers just like those who giddily chased after yesterday’s lunch.

tiger shark attacking

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

ESPN’s In-Depth Take on San Diego Shark-Attack

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

To describe the atmosphere throughout the beach-cites of northern San Diego as surreal on the morning of April 25, 2008 would be putting it lightly. Helicopters and planes buzzing up and down the coast, the flashing lights of police cars and park rangers at the majority of beach access points, the eerie calm of the waters where the unthinkable had just taken place….this wasn’t supposed to happen here. Not San Diego. If there was ever a place where surfers could surf without even so much as thinking about the risk of a shark-attack, it was here. The last confirmed white shark attack had taken place nearly 50 years ago. That type of thing just doesn’t take place.

For reasons and circumstances we will never know, on April 25 the unimaginable did take place in Solana Beach. A great white shark had attacked and killed Dr. David Martin near a break called “Tabletops” and sent shock-waves throughout the tight-knit beach cities. For weeks it was at the forefront of everyone’s minds and all that was talked about. Whether you were in the line-up at any nearby break, at the local coffee shop, or anywhere else for that matter, people wanted to discuss the details surrounding what had happened to Dr. Martin. As time passed, the buzz surrounding the attack quieted. Dolphins were able to pass through line-ups again without a rash of shark “sightings” being reported, and surfers and beach-goers in general came back to the realization that this was just a tragic accident. San Diego wasn’t going to become the new “Smyrna Beach” with white sharks.

While the news of the Solana Beach attack passed for much of us, for the family of Dr. Martin and those close to him when it took place, something like this will probably never pass. To lose a loved one in these circumstances is something that is nearly impossible to wrap your head around. Tom Friend of ESPN recently posted an in-depth article covering the different aspects of the attack on Dr. Martin. The article was one of the most moving I have come across in some time. Many times it’s hard to know just how many people are affected by something like this, as well as what stories of courage, love, and endurance will result from people who simply refuse to let an incident like this change the way that they live their lives. The writer at ESPN did a remarkable job of capturing the side of the story that many times goes unseen, and in doing so produced an article that should not go unread.

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

Sharkwater: A Much Needed Perspective (Video)

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

sharkWe’ve given quite a bit of coverage on 5ones to the abnormal year it’s been for shark encounters around the world. While writing these posts I always worry about possibly perpetuating any of the myths and fears that so many have when it comes to these magnificent animals. I hope that’s not the case; it’s just been the unusual nature of a lot of these incidents that have made them particularly interesting this year.

With that, I want to pass along a recommendation from the OceansWavesBeaches blog to check out the thrilling, award-winning documentary Sharkwater.

If you have yet to see the film, it’s definitely one you’ll want to put on your list. Filmmaker Rob Stewart started the project off with the intention of showing an interaction with sharks that has never been seen before. He ended up with a film chronicling his battles with long-lining fishers who are slaughtering sharks by the thousands for the sole purpose of harvesting their fins. The gruesome, horrific practice of shark-finning is still being used all over the world. It makes you wonder how much greater the outrage would be if Grizzly Bears or Tigers were having their limbs sliced off while still alive and then simply left to bleed out and die by the thousands.

Posted in Surfing | 2 Comments »

Unusual Year for Shark Encounters Continues

Monday, September 15th, 2008

great white shark15 Tiger Sharks cruising off of the shores of the Big Island in Hawaii, an attack at Crouching Lion’s off of Oahu, New Smyrna’s pesky sharks nabbing two more ocean-goers to bring their 2008 shark-bite total to 21 in South Florida….The unusual year for shark encounters just keeps moving on.

Now to go along with the photograph of the Spinner Shark pulling an aerial in Smyrna this past July, a likely Great White Shark was captured cruising off of Ocean Beach, San Francisco not far behind a surfer who was in mid-form riding a wave. I first came across the photo on Surftherenow and it sent chills down my spine. Ocean Beach is notorious for being host to a large number of Whities, but the past month or so has seen an increase in the number of sightings and encounters than they are typically used to at the famed Nor-Cal break.

So what do all of these unusual encounters with the men in grey mean? Who really knows. The opinions from experts everywhere are varied. There’s definitely something out of the norm though as far as shark encounters go in 2008. California, Mexico, Hawaii, and Florida are clear examples of just that.

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

New Smyrna’s Killin’ It: 19 and Counting

Friday, August 29th, 2008

New Smyrna SharksNew Smyrna Beach, Fla. is absolutely on fire right now, but probably not in the way that surfers are hoping for. As the proverbial ink had just finished drying on our “New Smyrna 2008 Shark Attack Tally: 17 and Counting” post, the fellas at The Fear Beneath quickly informed us that the tally had in fact just risen to 19 shark attacks and counting in Volusia County. At this rate, the 2001 ’summer of the shark’ record of 22 attacks is on it’s way out the door.

The latest incident capped a 3 bites-in-3 days stretch when a 19-year old man was bitten on the foot. The victim was then treated at the scene and eventually left the beach with a friend, said the Volusia County Beach Patrol. Again, while no one obviously enjoys being bitten by sharks and we feel for all of those unfortunate enough to experience something like this, the nature of these ‘attacks’ has typically been in the form of minor bites leaving injuries that are %100 recuperable.

19 shark bite incidents in 8 months is a pretty outrageous number. Thanks goodness the culprits aren’t Whities or Tigers, there would be one hell of a problem then and I’m pretty sure that would clear out the line-up very quickly. Even so, what steps does Volusia County take to curb this issue? Surely this can’t be good for their tourism industry.

Martin Brody of The Fear Beneath asks a couple of interesting questions in his post: Four attacks in two weeks in California? There would be total chaos. Mass insanity. Why such apathy on the East Coast? When sharks attack your beach users every week, do you simply get used to it?

He’s right, four attacks in two weeks in places like California or even Hawaii probably would generate a greater response, but then again when your dealing with White Sharks and Tiger Sharks instead of Blacktips and Spinners it’s a whole other situation. And I don’t think this is something you can really ‘get used to.’ Mr. Brody sent an open e-mail to Kevin Sweat, Volusia County Director of Beach Safety, and although he has yet to respond there is hope that Mr. Sweat will shed some light on any plans they are making to prevent these encounters in the future. This type of activity is bad for surfers and swimmers, but even worse for the stigmas and misconceptions that surround our finned-friends who have called the ocean their homes long before our species ever stepped foot in the water. Hopefully some sort of preventative measure can be taken, whether it’s shark nets or any other harmless solution, and sharks and humans alike can enjoy the beaches of Volusia County in peace.

Posted in Surfing | 6 Comments »

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