Saturday, February 28, 2009

Great White sharks encounters in California

More and more, surfers are keeping an eye out for dorsal fins in the water. More and more, surfers are reporting sharks.

Ralph Collier's Web site,, reports stepped-up sightings near San Clemente since Richard Thornton and Dave Schulte's reports of possible great whites generated publicity in January.

The latest report on the Web site was Feb. 1 from Marty Colombatto, who was stand-up paddling south of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station: "Over a one-month period … I have had three encounters at the same location. First encounter, it swam slowly under our boards about two to three feet below the surface. Second encounter, we saw it swim in front of us and darted away when we got close. Third encounter, it was sitting motionless about two feet below the surface."

A Jan. 30 report from Keith Lee, who was stand-up paddling a mile south of the nuclear plant, said: "The shark did a drive-by to check me out. It never surfaced. It was 8 feet long, dark gray or brown in color. After a moment it submerged and was gone."

On Jan. 25, Manuel Quinitana reported from Cottons Point in San Clemente: "It took me about five seconds to realize that it was very close to me. I began to second-guess myself and thought it might be a dolphin. After watching it for several moments slowly swim in a straight line, I saw the size, color and realized that it was a large shark very near to me.

"I headed for the shore and I tried to take small strokes. I finally made it. The head and tail never surfaced, but a large light-gray dorsal fin with a triangular shape did pop up in front of me. It was just cruising. It had to be over 10 feet in length."

On Jan. 19, Jason Jacobs reported from San Onofre: "At about 2 p.m., while stand-up paddling at Dog Patch Beach, San Onofre, Drew Fischer encountered a 7-foot great white shark.

"The shark breached four feet out of the water only 30 feet away from him. It came out of the water and did a roll onto its side. I had just gotten out of the water.

"It is possible the shark may have been interested in a paddler who had his dog way out past the lineup. The dog was swimming around and thrashing in the water. Drew immediately caught a small wave in and exited the water. The other witness said he was scared to death and frantically paddled straight to the beach."

Contact the writer: or 949-492-5127


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