Shark bites surfer -- swimming, wading barred at beaches
Ulysses Torassa, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, October 11, 2004
The waters off two beaches along the Point Reyes National Seashore are closed to swimmers and waders until at least Friday, after a shark attacked a surfer there Sunday morning.
The victim, who was not identified, was sitting with his legs dangling off his surfboard about 200 yards offshore in an area between Limantour and Drakes beaches, when the shark bit him on the leg around 9:30 a.m., according to park ranger John Golda. The surfer spun around and managed to hit the shark near its eye with his elbow, and it swam away.
"He made it back to shore on his board and got to his cell phone and called 911,'' Golda said. An hour later, the surfer was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, with injuries to his lower leg that did not appear to be life-threatening.
Golda said the victim was apparently out with some friends, but the friends already had left the beach area when the attack occurred.
The victim was able to tell authorities only that the shark appeared to be 6 to 8 feet long, which was not enough detail for park officials to say whether it was a great white, the species most commonly associated with attacks off the California coast.
"There's been a lot of speculation (about the kind of shark), but nobody is positive yet what it was,'' Golda said.
The incident is at least the fourth shark attack this year along the coast. In May, a Windsor man surfing near Bodega Bay managed to fight off a great white shark during a prolonged battle. And in July and again last week, authorities in San Luis Obispo Counties posted warnings at Pismo and Avila beaches -- where a woman was killed last year by a shark -- after two separate incidents.
In the July incident, a shark knocked a teenager off his surfboard. In last week's attack, a suspected great white shark bit a surfer's board and knocked him into the water, bumping into the surfer's side as the surfer paddled away.
In August, a Auburn man diving for abalone off the coast of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County was killed in a shark attack.
Most recently, authorities closed the waters off Stinson Beach for a week and a half in early September following shark sightings from both land and air.
Still, Golda said Sunday's incident was unusual for the Point Reyes area.
"It's a very rare occurrence -- I've never heard of an attack in Drakes Bay before,'' he said. However, he said an abalone diver was attacked at the mouth of nearby Tomales Bay in 1996.
Golda said, if anything, more sharks should be around in the coming months, as they follow the migration of elephant seals who come to breed during the winter.
The National Park Service will be on the lookout for more sharks, Golda said. If none is sighted, the park service expects to reopen the waters to swimmers, waders and surfers Friday.
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