Thursday, April 9, 2009

Another Shark Sighting in La Jolla

While my friend George Plsek was surfing early this morning in Solana Beach, the carcass of a seal washed ashore. The seal had clearly been bitten by a shark; the frightening documentation of the attack is what you see here. Unfortunately, this sighting coincides all too well with the report the Shark Research Committee released about a Great White sighting in La Jolla on Monday:

On April 6, 2009 Raymundo Ayus, Jr. and a companion were spearfishing South of La Jolla. The sky was clear with a light breeze. The divers were about ¾ of a mile from the beach. Ayus reported the following: “We suited up at Camino Del La Costa just South of La Jolla. The water was a choppy with visibility 10 feet near the surface but a good 20 feet at the bottom. We swam Northwest to a nice kelp bed and begun hunting. About 20 minutes into the dive, I looked up and saw my buddy waving. 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...

Click here to read the complete story.

• Stay away from the mouths of rivers after heavy rains, when freshwater fishes and other animals are swept out to sea.
• Swim clear of fishing boats. They often trail fish remains and blood, which can draw sharks.
• If you're bleeding, including menstruating, stay on the beach. Sharks can smell and taste even the smallest amount of blood from over a mile (1.6 kilometers) away and trace it back to its source.
• If you cut or injure yourself in the water, get out! Do not stay in the water with blood around you.
• Stay out of the water if fish blood or baitfish are present. In other words, steer clear of fishers.
• Avoid large groups of fish, seals, or sea lions. They all are prominent on the shark's menu.
• Stay away if you see large groups of dolphins and seabirds. They are attracted to the same food sharks eat. And don't make the mistake of thinking that if dolphins are present, there won't be any sharks around. Dolphins can be prey for large sharks.
• Stay away from dead animals in the water.
• Avoid areas where animal, human, or fish waste enter the water. Sewage attracts baitfish, which in turn attract sharks.
• Stay out of the water at dawn, dusk, and night, when some species of sharks may move inshore to feed on fish. Sharks are well equipped to locate prey even when visibility is poor.
• Avoid murky waters, harbor entrances, channels, and steep drop-offs. These areas are frequented by sharks.
• Do not wear high-contrast clothing (orange and yellow are said to be risky colors) or shiny jewelry (which may appear to be like fish scales). Sharks see contrast very well.
• Refrain from excessive splashing. Keep pets, which swim erratically, out of the water. Sharks are attracted to such activity.
• Leave the water quickly and calmly if a shark is sighted. Do not provoke, harass, or entice a shark, even a small one.
• If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water. They may be behaving like that because there is a shark in the area.
• If you feel something brush up against you, get out of the water to make sure that you have not been bitten. There have been reports that shark-bite victims often do not feel any pain.
• Swim, surf, or dive with other people. Sharks most often attack individuals.
• Don't wander too far from shore. Doing so isolates you and places you away from assistance.
• If you are diving and are approached by a shark, stay as still as possible. If you are carrying fish or other catches, release the catch and quietly leave the area.
• If attack is imminent, defend yourself with whatever weapons you can, advises the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research. "Avoid using your [bare] hands or feet if you can avoid it; if not, concentrate your blows against the shark's delicate eyes or gills." A shark's snout is also said to be sensitive.
• If a shark actually gets you in its mouth, says ISAF's George Burgess, "I advise to be as aggressively defensive as you are able. 'Playing dead' does not work. Pound the shark in any way possible. Try to claw at the eyes and gill openings, two very sensitive areas."
• If bitten, try to stop the bleeding. Leave the water as efficiently, calmly, and swiftly as possible. While many sharks will not bite again, you cannot rule out a second attack.
• Get immediate medical attention, no matter how small the injury.
Read the rest of the article at National Geographic News

Triathletes, please be careful out there. Stay out of the water at dangerous times and avoid high risk areas. Unfortunately, because of the seal colony in La Jolla, this can be tough. The seal colony has a range of 25 miles north and south of La Jolla, so as we enter the Great White migration and pupping season of April-June, be extra careful and stay out of the water at dawn and dusk. Please post your comments below.

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