Manhattan Beach shark sightings reported on consecutive days

July 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
There have been back-to-back shark sightings off El Porto near Manhattan Beach, and locals say it's part of a growing trend.

The surfers were up early Wednesday morning at El Porto, and so were the sharks - for the second day in a row.

Tuesday, a sheriff's department's helicopter was flying in the area when officials spotted what they described as two large sharks swimming near some surfers. Lifeguards went to investigate, but saw only one smaller shark.

Surfer Wagner Deberu said he also saw a shark when he was out in the water Wednesday. He believes it was a great white.

"I followed him, he sped up a little bit and then he came back again," Deberu described. "It's definitely intimidating."

Deberu says the shark he saw was about 6 feet, which would mean it's likely a juvenile. Others have reported seeing it, too.

"I really didn't see the length of it. I just saw the fin, which was enough for me to paddle the other way," said Beth Koral, another surfer.

Longtime surfers in Manhattan Beach say the sharks are out there all the time.

"I've seen more shark sightings here in the last several months than I've seen my whole life surfing here," said surfer Troy Campbell.

County lifeguards are aware of the sightings and are trying to manage the problem. They're sending boats out to patrol, and they've seen the sharks. But so far, they say the animals appear to be very docile.

"They're not looking for trouble with us. They're too small, number one. Number two, I think what they're trying to get is most of the bait fish that's coming ashore," said Terry Yamamoto with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

In California, the great whites are a protected species, which means they can't be hunted. It's a law that leaves some surfers anxious.

"Who's going to protect our kids? There's got to be some kind of a fine line. I mean, I think our children and us should be protected more than a shark," said Dan Montrose, a surfer.

As long as no one gets bitten, it won't be a problem. But some fear with increasing sightings, it's just a matter of time.

Another theory that lifeguards have about the number of sightings has to do with water temperature, which is around 72 degrees. This means there are a lot more stingrays. Lifeguards say the sharks may be feeding on the stingrays.

This theory may be not too far from the mark. Dr. Christopher G. Lowe, a professor of marine biology at California State University, Long Beach, says juvenile white sharks spend their summers lingering just outside the break, learning how to catch food, mostly stingrays, halibut and other bottom fish.

Lowe said that baby and juvenile white sharks are not that uncommon this time of year along the Southern California coastline, and they pose no danger to people.

In 2012, a surfer near Vandenberg Air Force Base was killed by a shark while out in the water. In 2010, a boogie boarder was killed as well. Both incidents were linked to a great white shark.

In 2008, a swimmer along the coast of San Diego at Salona Beach was also killed in an attack by a great white shark.


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