Tuesday, August 01, 2006

First shark sighting of the summer: a Great White Shark

For the first time this summer, advisories are up at some of the most popular central coast beaches, warning beach-goers that Great Whites are back.

Officials said a longtime fisherman saw a Great White shark around 10 a.m. on Sunday, about one mile offshore, and three miles north of the Santa Maria River mouth.

Authorities have ruled it a credible shark sighting, making it the first to be reported this year.
On Monday, shark advisories were posted at Avila, Pismo Beach and the Oceano Dunes, because a Great White was spotted about five miles away.

Word traveled quickly, but did not seem to affect local surfers.

"No way, I come out here to have fun, not worry about sharks," said Josh Reed, Paso Robles resident.

Port San Luis Harbor officials posted the signs to warn beach-goers of the danger lurking offshore.
"I've been surfing in Carpenteria when two White sharks were spotted the same day, and it's just something you try and put in the back of your mind and have fun," said Wes Gilbert, Paso Robles resident.

Although, this is the first confirmed shark sighting of the summer, authorities said sightings are more common than a shark attack. According to the International Shark Attack File, there have been 13 confirmed shark attacks in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties since 1926.
The last fatal attack happened August 19, 2003 in Avila Beach. It is believed Nipomo resident Debra Franzman was killed by a 15-foot Great White shark while on her morning swim.

Authorities advise people this time of year to avoid swimming in areas heavily populated by marine life, and to swim near lifeguards, and with a buddy.

But when it comes to faithful surfers, most of them said shark statistics and warning signs are not going to make them ditch their surfboard.

"You got to accept the fact that when you go out in the water, you're in their house," said Gilbert.
The shark advisories at local beaches will be posted for five days.


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