A swimmer was bitten by a great white shark this morning off the California Coast near Manhattan Beach. The unidentified man was taken to the hospital and is described as having a “moderate” wound. He was breathing and alert.
The middle-aged man was part of a long-distance swimming group working out about 60 feet off the beach. A man fishing from a pier had hooked the 7-foot shark around 30 minutes before and was trying to land the fish as the swimmers approached. The swimmer was bitten on the right side of the upper torso as he approached the struggling shark. As the fisherman saw the man bitten he cut the line and released the shark.
A nearby surfer, Aram Ozen, witnessed the attack. He said at first people thought the victim was having trouble swimming, but then he heard people began screaming “White, white.” He said it was a “scary scream,” and a lot of people were screaming back to shore.
Lifeguards kept swimmers from entering the water after the man was bitten and watched the great white shark as it swam farther out to sea after remaining in the area along the California coast for the next 20 minutes. A nearly two-mile long stretch of water between Manhattan Beach and Hermosa beach was closed for about three hours as lifeguard boats and helicopters searched for the shark.
The last fatal shark attack in California occurred in 2012 when a surfer near Santa Barbara County’s Vandenberg Air Force Base was bitten by a great white shark. In that occurrence a 16-foot great white mauled a surfer near Lompoc. Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., 39, died shortly after the attack, in which he received a large wound to his torso.
Shark attacks are rare in Southern California waters, although people are occasionally known to hook smaller great white sharks while fishing. Between 2001 and 2013 there were 39 reported shark attacks in California, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History which tracks such data. East Coast swimmers are much more likely to be attacked by sharks. Out of a total of 477 reported shark attacks in the entire U.S. over those years, 62 percent happened in Florida, with California ranked fourth on the list. Twelve people total died in those 12 years from injuries sustained in shark attacks.
Evidence of other close encounters with sharks have been posted to YouTube recently, showing them near shore. In the last six months a series of great white shark sightings have occurred off Manhattan Beach. Researchers said the sharks are most likely juveniles learning to feed, who may be drawn to the area’s warmer waters. In December a video shot by a paddleboarder showed three great whites circling under his board. The fish were between 8 and 10 feet long.
Another great white was spotted off Manhattan beach on July 1, as reported by Pacific Coast Shark News. Another sighting occurred the same day off of San Miguel Island.
Following the great white shark attack off the California coast, surfers and paddle boarders swam the screaming swimmer to shore. He was treated immediately by local firefighters and police and rushed to a local hospital where his condition was reported as stable by the Los Angeles County Fire and Lifeguard Division.
By Beth A. Balen