Shark attacks woman on kayak at Catalina, knocks her off in front of her kids
June 23rd, 2008, 4:23 pm · 45 Comments · posted by Laylan Connelly
Shark expert Ralph Collier this morning weighed in on what he thinks happened on the backside of Catalina this weekend, when a woman was knocked off her kayak by a great white shark, a bump that sent her flying into the water screaming while her family and other anglers watched helplessly from a boat.
Bettina Pereira survived the encounter with out a bite, and just sore muscles. When she flew into the air, Pereira actually stepped on the shark at one point, then pushed off in the opposite direction, her husband Andrew said in an interview Monday.
Collier, who runs the Shark Research Committee, contacted Andrew and confirmed it was a great white they encountered, based on the description and behavior of the shark.
“They’ve been at the island for millions of years,” Collier said. “So the fact that something has finally happened over there does not surprise me. I’m surprised it’s taken this long. ”
Collier said that it was an “investigation attack.”
“The shark was not interested at all in eating her, otherwise it would have stayed in the area and eaten her,” he said.
It was unusual behavior, however, for the shark to come back and ram the kayak, which knocked her into the air and flipped the kayak over.
Read more from an interview with Collier, where he tells us why we are seeing more sharks lately, and recalls similar kayaker encounters (where another person landed on the shark), and one attack in Malibu that ended in death.
Here’s the original story:
Andrew Pereira Monday recounted his wife Bettina’s unbelievable great white shark encounter Saturday morning off Catalina.
The Huntington Beach couple – along with their three kids – had taken their 50-foot boat to the island for an annual fishing tournament, and as always, Bettina dropped her kayak into the water to paddle around a bit.
They were on the backside of the island at Eagle Rock, and Bettina was about 500 feet from the shore in 200-foot deep waters when she felt a knock on her kayak.
At first she thought it was another boat or a whale - but then she looked in the water and saw the dorsal fin come out.
“It comes right under the kayak, threw her in the air, threw the kayak in the air,” Andrew said. “When she landed, she landed on the back of the shark, on her two feet. It was incredible.
Bettina screamed for help. The shark heads in one direction, and she jumps off in the other direction.
Andrew didn’t see the initial bump, but looked over when their 14-year-old son Andrew said “mom fell off the kayak.”
That’s strange, Andrew thought. In the 12 years she’s been out in the waters kayaking, she’s never fallen off. Then, in a split second, young Andrew yells: Oh my God, there’s a shark after her!
“It seemed like a long time, but it all happened so quick,” he said.
Bettina is currently on the boat resting, her body sore from the attack. Andrew is handling media calls so she can rest.
“I’ve never had any fear of having her in a kayak. There was nothing I could do,” he said. Their boat, Bettina Lee, was anchored and they couldn’t get to her.
Fortunately, there were two small boats nearby that rushed over to her within 20 seconds. The boat “Topless” picked her up out of the water.
Andrew thinks the shark took a bite out of the kayak during the scuffle, and didn’t like what he bit into.
When asked if this will keep him and his family out of the water, Andrew said they love the water and changing their lifestyle wouldn’t be easy.
“You can’t live your life being fearful of something like that happening,” he said. “My wife, I’m sure it will be a long time before she gets on the kayak.”
Are you scared of sharks? I’ve seen Jaws and I’ve never been the same
I’ll take my chance
A shark would be scared of me
I just wrote a blog a few hours ago about a possible great shark following an outrigger here in Laguna Beach this weekend. Read that story here.
There is a video on CBS2.com about the great white incident at Catalina interviewing Pereira via phone, where she said her first thoughts was that a whale had knocked her off. “I landed right on the shark’s body,” she said.
Here’s part of a witness account about the Catalina attack by Bill Weilbacher, who was on a nearby boat and saw the entire attack. The entire post is here at allcoast.com:
“The woman is fine physically and was not actually bitten, but I’m sure she’s going to have her share of nightmares for some time to come.
… I was in the process of pinning my first squid on the hook when I heard a scream from the direction of the kayak. I looked over and saw the kayak flipping over and the woman going in the water. She was about a hundred yards away.
I saw a big splash next to the boat and then saw what I initially thought was an arm waving back and forth and splashing. The “arm” was dark so I thought I was looking at a person in a wetsuit waving his arm back and forth… After about two seconds I realized the “arm” was actually part of a huge shark tail oriented vertically in the water and it was thrashing back and forth right at the surface. The large dark shape was actually part of the shark sticking out of the water. The portion of the tail I could see looked like it was three feet long. The shark was pushing on the kayak and the woman was on the far side of the kayak holding on and screaming. Apparently, when she was knocked out of the kayak at some point she ended up with the kayak between her and the shark. I’m sure that’s what saved her life. Anyway, the shark was pushing on the up-side down kayak to get at her and the whole while she is shrieking like nothing I’ve ever heard…
By this time the shark had sunk out and the woman had begun swimming away from the kayak toward the big Mikelson. Watching her swimming was about the sickest thing I have ever seen. It was a feeling of complete helplessness. I was positive that big shark was going to come up and hit her at any second. The vessel “Topless” (looked sort of like an open 20 foot Skipjack, but I don’t think that’s what it was), got to her first and pulled her out of the water. Amazingly, she was unscratched. The Topless took her back to her boat and the other small boat (a blue center console) towed her kayak back for her.
The woman’s family (including her grade-school aged kids) were all on the Mikelson watching helplessly as this whole thing went down. (They were anchored as well.)
… We motored over and talked to them after a little while to make sure that she was OK. She was in kind of a giddy, euphoric “I can’t believe I’m alive.” frame of mind. She said that she felt the bump from underneath and that it rolled her into the water. She said at one point (I guess toward the end of the attack) the shark went under the kayak and she pulled her feet up and then was kicking at it… She said as she was swimming for the boat all she could think about was the fact that her family was going to watch her get killed by a shark.
http://beach.freedomblogging.com/2008/0 ... s-her-off/