LIFEGUARD SERVICES SAY REPORTED SHARK SIGHTINGS NOT CONFIRMED

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 3, 2013 (San Diego) – Yesterday a local scanner tracking service reported several apparent shark sightings off Torrey Pines Beach. In the interest of keeping readers safe we posted the report promptly with no way to obtain confirmation on the holiday weekend.

 ECM today has reached both state and city lifeguards who say they are unaware of any reports.  It now appears our usually credible source was inaccurate and we regret the error.

We could not get verification prior to posting our initial report on Labor Day evening when we were simultaneously reporting on a live shooter on Mt Helix near my own home office, flash flooding in the backcountry, a wildfire in La Posta and additional weather-related incidents.  This story was posted by a bleary-eyed editor in the early pre-dawn hours who got no sleep due to the shooting incident here including  eight wakeup phone calls from emergency authorities that continued until 3:30 a.m.

For those interested in the history of shark attacks in our area and California overall, below are some fascinating facts. 

View a video of a great white shark spotted in 2011 off Torrey Pines estimated at 10 to 12 feet long. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7379422n .

Great white shark attacks have been linked to fatalities off local beaches in the past.  The large predators have been protected in California for a decade and while still unusual locally, have been seen more frequently here in recent years.

In April 2008, a triathlete swimmer was killed by a great white shark off Solana Beach.   In May 2013, the body of a surfer off Pacific Beach was found to have been attacked by a shark, though it’s believed he died of drowning.  In April 1994, a swimmer off La Jolla was killed by a Great white shark, the Medical Examiner ruled, though there is some dispute over whether the shark attacked her before or after she died.  Back in 1959, a man free-diving for abalone off La Jolla was swallowed whole by a Great white shark, according to several witnesses.

Great white sharks have typically been more common off waters of Northern California, where they have been linked to several deaths.  But an increase in sea lion populations locally – the favorite prey of Great white sharks, may be contributing to increased shark sightings locally.  Great white shark sightings have caused several beach closures in recent years and have also been  responsible for some non-fatal attacks.

Hunting great white sharks has been prohibited in California since 1993.   The California Department of Fish and Game is currently considering a petition to add great white sharks to the state’s endangered species list, since in other parts of the world,  hunting sharks for trophies and fins as decimated populations.

Other shark fatalities have occurred farther north along California’s coast, all by great white sharks.

Since 1950, there have been 101 attacks by sharks on human’s in California waters, of which 17 have been fatal, according to the California Department of Fish and Game: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/whiteshark.asp

Here is the list of fatalities, excluding the San Diego fatal attacks described above. All California fatalities were the result of great white sharks.

October 2012:   Surfer fatally attacked off  Santa Barbara shore at Surf Beach

October 2010:    Bodyboarder at Santa Barbara’s Surf Beach died after shark tore his leg off

August 2004:    Abalone diver off Mendocino was decapitated and killed by great white shark

August 2003:   Swimmer attacked off Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County

December 1994:  Diver killed off San Miguel  Island

April 1994:   La Jolla swimmer  killed by great white shark, Medical Examiner ruled, though some law enforcement representatives theorized she may have been murdered and dumped in the ocean. Her leg had been bitten off.

January 1989:   A great white shark killed a kayaker off Malibu and is presumed to have killed her boyfriend, too; his body was never found.

September 1984:   Abalone diver killed near Santa Cruz

December 1981:  Surfer fatally attacked off Monterey

May 1959:  A swimmer was killed in less than 15 feet of water off Baker Beach in San Francisco

April 1957:   A swimmer far offshore at Atascadero Beach, Morro Bay was killed by a great white shark

December 1952:  Great white shark killed a swimmer was killed near Lover’s Point, Pacific Grove.

Shark attack have been more common in Hawaii and Florida, where fatalities involved not only great white sharks, but also bull sharks, tiger sharks, and oceanic whitetip sharks. 

Some shark attacks are believed to be cases of mistaken identity, with sharks attracted by divers in wetsuits and fins resembling seals or sea lions.

Comments

Shark sighting

Seven gills and Leopard sharks were reported, haven't heard anything about a White Shark forcing beach closures. You need to pull the article if it is not accurate.

Story is revised - see below.

Yesterday a local scanner tracking service that is normally very reliable advised ECM of several apparent shark sightings off Torrey Pines Beach that the service said had been reported to lifeguards. In the interest of keeping readers safe we posted the report promptly with no way to obtain confirmation on the holiday weekend.

 ECM today has reached both state and city lifeguards who say they are unaware of any reports.  It now appears our usually credible source was inaccurate and we regret the error.

We could not get verification prior to posting our initial report on Labor Day evening when we were simultaneously reporting on a live shooter on Mt Helix near my own home office, flash flooding in the backcountry, a wildfire in La Posta and additional weather-related incidents.  This story was posted by a bleary-eyed editor in the early pre-dawn hours who got no sleep due to the shooting incident here including  eight wakeup phone calls from emergency authorities that continued until 3:30 a.m.

I wrongly assumed that other media had not picked up on the story due to the many other major emergencies breaking countywide, including another fire that shut down I-15 in Escondido, as well as state and county offices being closed on the holiday weekend.  Other media has missed major stories before that were accurate. 

We regret any inconvenience this has caused.  On the other hand, if we had not posted it and one of our readers went surfing/swimming and was attacked by a shark, the consequences would have even worse. 

 

 

 

Hoax

I just registered for your magazine for the sole purpous of expressing my outrage over this clearly fictionalized article about a Great White shark sighting in La Jolla. So far no other major news provider has corroborated this story, including the local patch media. Even more frustrating is the fact that the article has yet to be removed. You should be verifying your sources before you post rubbish like this.

Seriously?

Why would you publish an inaccurate story like this? The video you linked to is from 2011. If you were to Google image search "shark off san diego" you would see mulitple links to news stories about the supposed photo of a shark swimming amongst surfers. Now, if you Google a little deeper you will see that there is a lot of speculation about if the photo in the news video even depicts a shark at all. It may be photoshopped or it may show something that is not a shark at all, like a surfer or body boarder, or even a dophin.

I'll provide the links for you:

Shark correction.

Thank you, we have corrected the note on the video which was indeed from 2011 not 2013 and inaccurately labeled on other sites, and retracted the shark siting details that now appear unsubstantiated once we could reach the proper authorities today.

See my note above.  A scanner tracking service did issue a shark sighting alert yesterday off the local coast.  We could not verify detals yesterday due to closure of state and county offices over the holiday weekend, and erred on the side of keeping people safe. We were also in the midst of reporting other major emergencies -- see note above for the full list.  This is an exhausting job at times, and we strive to be accurate and err on the side of protecting public safety.  This is one of those very, very rare cases where the early information from a reliable source was off base.

In searching for verification on a Torrey Pines shark siting, while sleep deprived here at 2 am due to the shooter in my area, I missed the old date on the video, which popped up at the top of a Google search. I regret these errors and rest assured we have won 45 major journalism awards and would never perpetrate a hoax.