After a shark attacked a 28-year-old surfer Thursday and a kayaker was attacked on Friday, three Southern California beaches along Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB) were closed over the weekend. According to Tech. Sgt. Tyrona Lawson, the surfer, who was a civilian employee at the AFB, was taken to an emergency room at a nearby hospital. His name has not been released.
Witnesses stated that the man was surfing north of Wall Beach around 5:30 pm when he was attacked by the shark. The shark was described as being between ten feet and 12 feet long. This appears to only be the start of the dangerous attacks between people and sharks that lead to the Southern California beach closures.
On Friday, in Santa Barbara County, Ryan Howell was thrown five to ten feet in the water with his kayak as his buddy was yelling at him, “That shark is huge.” Howell walked away from the attack unharmed. However, with two attacks in two days, authorities closed the beaches to surfers for the weekend.
Howell’s kayak had bite marks on the front and back, and was beat up. After the aggressive attack by the shark, Howell jumped on to his friends kayak. He described the attack similar to being in a small car accident. Earlier in the day, Howell witnessed another kayaker have a run in with a shark and get knocked into the water. Fishermen in the area assisted that kayaker.
The area is known to be home to sharks. In October of 2012 at Surf Beach, a surfer was killed from a bite sustained from a great white shark. Two years earlier, also in October, a bodyboarder died after almost loosing a leg after what appeared to be a great white shark attacked.
Along the Southern Californian coast line, visitors and residents are encouraged to pay close attention to their surroundings. Almost a decade ago, National Geographic published tips if someone was attacked by a shark. Staying clear of fishing boats that may trail blood or fish remains and staying on the beach if you are bleeding and to leave the water quickly and return to the beach if a shark is sited. Officials in California stress that if a beach is closed due to shark attack, people should stay out of the water at all costs.
Vandenberg AFB located 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles, is a space and missile launch site located along the Santa Barbara County coastline. The Surf Beach area is a nesting area for the Western Snowy Plover and had been closed for several months, only opening earlier this week. After reopening, the shark attack closed it along with two other beaches. With no lifeguards on duty, the officials deemed it necessary to close all three beaches instead of policing people to keep them out of the Southern California water.
After the attack by the sharks on the surfer and kayaker, the Southern California beaches will remain closed until 4:00 pm Sunday. Coastal California is home to the great white shark, and their healthy population. Officials do not want to take a chance of these two incidents becoming worse and endangering the lives of surfers and beach goers.
By Carl Auer