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Pacific Coast Shark News 2014

The following reports for 2014 are provided as a public service. They are intended to inform our visitors of current shark activities along the Pacific Coast of North America. To review Pacific Coast Shark News for 2003 click here, for 2004 click here, for 2005 click here, for 2006 news click here, for 2007 click here, for 2008 click here, for 2009 news click here, for 2010 news click here, for 2011 news click here, for 2012 news click here and for 2013 click here.


Notice I want to thank those of you that have made a contribution to the Shark Research Committee this year. Your financial support has been instrumental in funding our pioneering DNA research as well as our continuing Conservation, Education, and Research Programs. If you haven't made a contribution yet, I would like to ask you, as someone that is concerned about the future of our oceans and the sharks that dwell in them, what would you be willing to give to help complete a DNA study with far reaching shark conservation benefits? Could you give – $10, $20, $50 or more? This 'new' methodology will allow researchers to obtain samples for DNA studies with a noninvasive procedure, without removing a shark from its natural environment and exposing it to potential organ and vascular injury that could result in serious health consequences. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the Shark Research Committee and help us – “Save the Sharks – Save the Oceans”

Pt. Loma   —  On April 20,2014 Michael Gould reported;“A friend of my son sent us a photo, that was taken the 13th or 14th, of a large White Shark dining on a Seal or Sea Lion just off the tip of Pt. Loma, in San Diego County. You can see a discolored area to the right of the photo that is lighter in color than the water. These were the remains of the animal the shark had killed. The sky is quite clear and the water visibility appears to be pretty clear as you can see from the photo. Water temps in this area are currently 60 – 64 degrees. Although I wasn't there to see it for myself, the shark looks to be somewhere between at least 12 and could up to 15 feet in length. There are always a group of Sea Lions that haul out and bask at nearby Zuniga Jetty and last fall I encountered a dead one just inside the point that had very likely been killed by a white shark as it had a very large wound to its abdominal area.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.

Santa Cruz   —  On April 18, 2014 Eric Chin and his son were surfing at Pleasure Point, O'neills at 38th Avenue, Santa Cruz. It was about 10:45 AM and they had been on the water 1.5 hours. The ocean was calm with 2 – 3 foot waves over a reef. The water temperature was estimated at 57 degrees Fahrenheit with limited water visibility due to a plankton bloom. The sky was clear with an estimated air temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Several seal pups and sea otters were observed in the area. Chin reported:“My son was surfing the inside break so I grabbed his 9'0 Strive longboard and paddled to the outside peak. I caught a nice 2 foot wave and road that into the beach. I paddled back out to the peak and sat calmly looking at the horizon. It was a crystal clear sunny day with great visibility. I scanned the horizon for the next set. At that time, I saw a large dark colored shark breach completely out of the water about 100 yards from the peak. The shark was about 8 – 9 feet over the water, and horizontal to the ocean, and the dorsal fin was flapping back and forth. The nose of the shark descended about 10 degrees lower and the shark slammed back into the ocean and splashed down with a lot of spray. The entry was NOT nose first and clean like a dolphin, but more like that of a whale's breach. I have sailed since I was three, and surfed for the past 15 years in Santa Cruz. I am an avid fan of sea life, and know with extreme confidence that this was a shark breaching. I cannot be 100% confident it was a White Shark, however, the length, 10 – 12 feet, and the girth of the shark leads me to believe it was a Whitey. I have heard that Blue Sharks and Makos breach, but the volume and size of this fish was tremendous. It was a moving experience, and gorgeous moment. There were three other longboarders near me and I yelled "woah, shark breach, did you friggin' guys see that?" No one caught the breach. However a few guys muttered and paddled in. Everyone else stayed in the lineup. It was a truly stunning sight, and one that I will remember for life. The sheer beauty of the shark was awesome. We all stayed out and surfed another hour or so, then went in as the flood tide was starting to slow down the waves.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


San Onofre State Beach   —  On April 15, 2014 Frederik Boll was surfing with four unidentified companions 50 yards from shore at San Onofre State Beach, Trail One. It was 6:00 PM and he had been on the water about one hour. The sky was partly cloudy with the estimated air temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The sea was glassy and calm with very poor water visibility of only 2 feet and an estimated water temperature of 57 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit. A single pinniped was observed about 30 minutes following the encounter with “small schools of baitfish jumping once in a while.” Boll reported;“We were sitting on our boards approximately 50 yards out. In between sets we noticed some water churning about 10 yards further out than our location and then saw the dorsal and caudal fin. The shark stayed in that location for a couple of minutes. I asked the other surfers if we should go in but they said that they see them all the time in this area so we all stayed out. About 10 minutes later when I was paddeling back out I saw it again as it cruised by my board. It was about 6ft long and girthy. It looked grey from my vantage point which leads me to believe it was a salmon shark or a small great white. It cruised around the lineup for 10 – 15 minutes then disappeared and wasn't seen again.” California Grunion spawns are frequently associated with the appearance of juvenile White Sharks at Southern California beaches. The Grunion spawn was anticipated to begin on the 15th and end on the 18th of April. Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Long Beach, WA  On April 7, 2014 Paul Holmgren reported the following;“While on vacation at Long Beach, Washington, located about 5 miles North of the Columbia River in South-Western Washington, I came upon an adult Sea Lion dead on the beach. It had several wounds that were located toward the rear of the animal and two long slices that were slightly less than a foot in total length but were at least 5 or 6 inches deep. There were several smaller cuts near the hind flippers. The wounds were recent, probably less a day old (Photograph courtesy of Paul Holmgren).” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


San Francisco  On March 25, 2014 Federal U.S. District Judge William Orrick III of San Francisco, upheld California's ban on possession or sale of shark fins, rejecting claims that the law discriminates against the Chinese community – where shark fin soup is a traditional delicacy – or interferes with federal management of ocean fishing. The California law, passed in 2011, took full effect in July 2013, when the possession of shark fins became illegal. It was challenged by Bay Area organizations of Chinese American businesses and by shark fin suppliers, who argued that the legislation targeted the Chinese community and exceeded the state's authority to regulate fishing. The Federal Government changed its position after discussions with California Fish & Wildlife officials. It said the two laws could be harmonized, with federal regulations governing shark fishing and the stricter California rules applying within the state. Orrick said, “The state law would have more of an effect on the Chinese American community than it would elsewhere, but federal courts require proof of intentional discrimination to overturn a law, and there was no such evidence in this case. People of Chinese origin or culture undoubtedly overwhelmingly comprise the market for shark fin. However, a law is not unconstitutional simply because it has a racially disparate impact." In his decision Orrick said,“The law applies equally throughout the state and was based on legislative findings that the California shark fin market boosted the market for shark finning, which was contributing to the decline of a species critical to the health of the ocean's ecosystem.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Carpinteria  On March 24, 2014 Peter C. Howorth of the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center reported the following;“A badly decomposed head and part of the shoulder of what appeared to be a very young elephant seal was discovered at the Tarpits in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara County. Based on the decomposition, I believe the animal had been dead from 1½ to 2½ weeks with the attack taking place almost anywhere along the near coast.” Wound dimensions are consistent with a white shark 10 – 12 feet in length. This incident is posted to keep you informed of shark activity in the Carpinteria area. Caution should be exercised when utilizing this location for your favorite ocean sport. This location was extremely active, reporting many white shark interactions with pinnipeds during 2012 and 2013. Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Goleta Point  On March 13, 2014 Peter Howorth, Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center, reported the following; “A sub-adult northern elephant seal washed ashore near the mouth of the lagoon at Goleta Point in Santa Barbara County. It had two large bites, one around its neck and the other farther back near the shoulder. It also had bites around the hind flippers. The specimen was in an advanced state of decomposition and probably died 1 ½ to 2 weeks ago. From the wounds, I think it's very possible that the shark killed the seal because of the location of the large bites on the neck and shoulder. Had the shark been scavenging, it would more likely have fed on the carcass without selecting such places to bite.” Examination of the wounds clearly show individual tissue bridges along the periphery of the two distinct bites to the neck and head of the seal. Interspace Measurements of these bridges is consistent with a juvenile white shark 7 – 8 feet in length. This report is ‘old news', however because of the relevancy of juvenile white sharks attacking adult pinnipeds along the Pacific Coast. Peter Howorth reported several similar events in 2013 and 2012. Historically, observed wounds on pinnipeds were inflicted by sub-adult and/or adult white sharks, more than 10 feet in length. Whether this is a new hunting strategy for juvenile white sharks, or simply an event that was never, or seldom, observed before, is unknown. We will continue to monitor these unique predatory events of juvenile white sharks. Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Wall Beach/Vandenberg Air Force Base   —  On March 9, 2014 Peter Howorth, Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center reported the following;“A juvenile northern elephant seal was attacked north of Wall Beach on Vandenberg Air Force Base.  Wall Beach is just north of Surf Beach. It would appear the seal was struck by a white shark. The seal was a weaner, which is a newly weaned seal. It had a very large bite out of the area just forward of the pelvis, a slash on the left side that peeled away skin and blubber, and a head wound. It has been reported that a surfer saw the attack, and from description of the event it sounds like a predatory attack rather than an investigative bite. A Vandenberg official called and said they'd closed the beach for 72 hours. It was scheduled to open either on the 11th or 12th (Photograph courtesy Paul Stark, SBMMC). Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Salmon Creek Beach   —  On February 17, 2014 Kris Wienski reported the following;“I was jogging on the beach at South Salmon Creek, Bodega Bay about 200 yards North from the end of the beach where it turns to rock and Bodega Head and spotted this buoy rolling around in the high water line. Its condition caught my eye so I grabbed it for a closer look. It looked like it had a better story than the rest of the buoys that wash up on the beaches so I took it home to find out. The sky was overcast and the waves were 4 foot with a strong NW wind. The buoy was connected to about 30 feet of line. A few baby seals were observed calmly wading around in the shallows.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


San Onofre State Beach   —  On February 17, 2014 Julie Holmes was Sand Up Paddleboarding at Trail One, San Onofre State Beach. It was 1:15 PM and she had been on the water about 30 minutes. The sky was clear with an estimated air temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The sea was calm with the water 20 – 30 feet deep over a sandy ocean bottom with rocks scattered throughout the area. Water visibility was about 10 feet with an estimated temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Holmes reported;“I was sitting about 15 feet from another surfer to my left with about 6 to my right waiting for a set to come in. I looked down when I noticed something swimming toward me. I realized it was a shark and it swam alongside me, which is how I figured out what it was and it's length. It was a juvenile white shark about 7 feet in length. It looked right at me and when I said ‘There's a shark right here,' it turned toward the surfer to my left and then it swam away and disappeared. It was swimming slowly and just seemed to be checking us out. No one exited the water. I surfed for another 30 minutes and got out. Shark wasn't spotted again.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Worldwide Shark Attacks 2013

As the Director of the Global Shark Attack File the following Shark Attack data was confirmed and authenticated for 2013. It is provided as a public service to emphasize the rarity of these interactions when the number of ocean users, their total contact hours on or in the water is reviewed and compared to other hazards humans face in their daily lives. Additional information is available at; www.sharkattackfile.net .

Ralph S. Collier
Global Shark Attack File

The Global Shark Attack File (www.sharkattackfile.net) reported 116 shark attacks worldwide during 2013, with 19 considered provoked or doubtful shark involvement leaving 97 unprovoked shark attacks, including 13 fatalities. The 97 attacks were distributed as follows; United States 53 (2 fatal), Australia 13 (2 fatal), South Africa 6 (1 fatal), Bahamas 5, Reunion 3 (2 fatal), Jamaica 2 (1 fatal), Brazil 2 (2 fatal), French Polynesia 2, New Zealand 2 (1 fatal), Guam 1 (fatal), Diego Garcia 1 (fatal), Mexico 1, Belize 1, Seychelles 1, Philippines 1, Taiwan 1, Kiribati 1, and New Caledonia 1.

United States
There were 59 interactions between sharks and humans reported from the United States in 2013 with 6 either provoked, special circumstances, or doubtful shark involvement leaving 53 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks, which includes 2 fatalities from Hawaii. The 53 attacks were distributed as follows; Florida 24, Hawaii 16 (2 fatal), California 4, South Carolina 4, North Carolina 1, Oregon 1, Texas 1, New Jersey 1, and Alabama 1. Activity of the victims were; Surfing/Boogie & Paddle Boarding/Kite Surfing 26, Swimming/Standing/Wading/Fishing 21, Diving/Snorkeling 4, and Kayaking 2.


Pacific Coast Shark Attacks During 2013

There were 5 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast of North America during 2013. There were 4 attacks recorded from California and 1 from Oregon. The attacks were distributed in the following months; June (1), August (2), October (1) and November (1). Activities of the victims were; 3 Surfing, 1 Kayaking, and 1 Swimming. The Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was positively identified or highly suspect in 4 of the 5 attacks, with a juvenile Salmon Shark, Lamna ditropis , the suspected causal species for the attack on the swimmer.

The publication “Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century” authenticated 108 unprovoked shark attacks from the Pacific Coast between 1900 and 1999. The Great White Shark was implicated in 94 (87%) of the 108 confirmed attacks with an annual average of slightly more than one shark attack per year. The 5 cases reported for 2013 brings the total number of unprovoked shark attacks occurring along the Pacific Coast during the 21 st Century to 77. This is ‘three times' the Twentieth Century annual average of slightly more than 2 shark attack per year during the period 1950 – 1999. The Great White Shark was positively identified or highly suspect in 67 (88%) of the 77 attacks recorded during the 21 st Century. From 2000 to the present, 38 (49%) of the 77 confirmed shark attacks occurred during the three month period of August (12), September (9), and October (17). There have been 185 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast of North America from 1900 to 2013. The Great White Shark was positively identified or highly suspect in 161 (87%) of the 185 cases. There were 8 fatal shark attacks confirmed from 1900 to 1999 and 5 fatal attacks reported from 2000 to 2013. The 13 fatal attacks represent 7% of the 185 total cases.

Victim activity for the 77 shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast since 2000 are distributed in the following ocean user groups; surfers 51 (66%) of the documented attacks, with 6 swimmers (8%), 9 kayakers (12%), 4 divers (5%), 4 paddle boarders (5%), 1 windsurfer (1%), 1 fishing (1%), and 1 boogie boarder (1%). The number of shark-bitten stranded marine mammals reported in 2013 was greater than the prior year, especially in Santa Barbara County. The location and time of year, would suggest an increase in the number of Great White Sharks utilizing those specific areas, however, this might not be the result of an increase in their population but rather locations being targeted by sharks migrating to northern regions. The Shark Research Committee will continue to closely monitor these activities.


Bodega Bay   —  On January 18, 2014 Lynn Wood was walking along the beach at Bodega Bay. Wood reported;“The sun was just coming up with a clear sky and a temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I saw something lying on the beach. As I got closer I realized it was a shark, about 2 ½ feet in length, lying on its side. It was motionless and looked lifeless. As I came upon the shark, vultures and seagulls were picking at it sporadically. My friend tried to pick it up by the tail, but its mouth started to move, and she quickly placed it back on the sand. The tide was coming in, and we expect it took the shark back out to sea. The attached photo of the shark.” The shark is a juvenile salmon shark, Lamna ditropis, that can be found stranded on California beaches throughout the year. Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


San Onofre State Beach   —  On January 19, 2014 Dave Schulte was observing the surf a little North of Trail One, San Onofre State Beach. It was 1:00 PM and the air and water temperatures were estimated at 70 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. No marine mammals were observed in the area. Schulte reported;“I was on the bluff above an area known as ‘Echo Arch' just North of Trail One. While observing the surf conditions I saw a juvenile Great White Shark, about 5 feet in length, breach as it was heading North just outside the surf line about 50 yards from shore. Water visibility was 10 feet as I could easily observe the shark from my vantage point. I stayed another 15 minutes and saw it only briefly as it surfaced in the same area for a brief moment, then sounded.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Santa Barbara   —  On January 5, 2014 Peter Howorth of the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center reported the following;“We recovered an adult harbor seal approximately 0.4 miles east of Arroyo Burro Beach. The seal had been killed and mostly eaten by a juvenile white shark. All of its skin, muscle tissue and blubber, along with virtually all of its internal organs, had been consumed. Some skin was left on its head and hind flippers. From tooth marks on the remaining skin, we could positively determine the identity of the shark. We estimate that the attack occurred sometime earlier today since fresh blood was present and no decomposition had begun. From the severity of the wounds and the fact that the seal was mostly eaten, we believe that the attack occurred within a few miles at most of the location where the carcass drifted ashore. Harbor seals are seen throughout this region, with a few always around the harbor and on the rocks at low tide off More Mesa.” Photograph courtsey of Paul Stark, SBMMC volunteer. Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.


Ocean Beach   —  On January 4, 2014 Jeffrey Wolfert was surfing at Ocean Beach, San Francisco. It was 7:30 AM and he had been on the water about 20 minutes. The sky was clear with a brisk breeze and an estimated air temperature in the 50s Fahrenheit. There was a wind and ground swell over a sandy ocean bottom 15 feet deep and an estimated water temperature in the upper 40s Fahrenheit. No marine mammals were observed in the area. Wolfert recalled;“While sitting on my board waiting for a set I saw a triangular shaped dorsal fin pop up about 30 yards away. It cruised across the surface for about 15 yards toward me and another surfer, then submerged out of sight. I saw no other part of the shark.” Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.




The material contained on this Web site is shared as a public service and to further the scientific goals of the Shark Research Committee.  All text and images on this Web site are the exclusive property of the Shark Research Committee.  Information on this Web site may be used for private study, but may not otherwise be published, duplicated, or modified in any way without the prior written permission of Ralph S. Collier.