Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Jaws 2012: Shark encounters abound on both coasts

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From the chilling shot of a shark’s dorsal fin closing in on a solo boater in Cape Cod to a kayaker in Santa Cruz County being attacked by a Great White, America hasn’t seen this much coastal shark activity since “Jaws” dominated the 1975 summer movie box office.

As reported by the Mercury News, a 52-year-old man was approximately a quarter-mile from the shore of Pleasure Point this past Saturday morning when a shark attacked the bright yellow 13.5-foot kayak he was using to fish, sending him into the water as the shark, estimated at 18 feet long and suspected to be a Great White, chomped on the kayak. The man was rescued shaken but unharmed by a nearby boat.

“It started with a violent jolt on the rear starboard side. The back of my kayak rose a few feet then the attack soon happened,” wrote the attack survivor on the norcalkayakanglers.com message board, posting as “FishingAddict.” “I saw the shark's head come out of the water and bite the starboard underside. His head was gray and white underneath his mouth. His mouth was already close when I saw him come out of the surface with my kayak in his mouth.  I can still vividly see the seriousness on his eyes. This all happened in about 2 seconds.

“The force of his attack threw me into the water and turned the Revo completely upside down.  I immediately started yelling, ‘SHARK, SHARK!’ several times…” his accounted continued. “I see the private boat heading towards me and in a flash decided it’s my best chance of survival.  I did a slow breaststroke towards the boat and jumped (aboard).”

The attack left bite marks 18 inches across on the bottom of the kayak, according to Capitola police officer Chad Keane.

That same Saturday in Cape Cod, MA, a shark estimated to be in the range of 12 to 14 feet was spotted cruising off the shore of Nauset Beach, at point trailing close behind kayaker Walter Szulc Jr., who was able to reach shore without incident as hundreds of people on the shore yelled for him to paddle faster.

"It was good-sized, it had a fin sticking out, so I just turned and paddled," Szulc told WHDH.com.

According to shark experts like Ralph Collier, this increase in human-shark encounters are due to an exploding seal population on both shores, which are a favorite food source for sharks, telling CBS News, “The sharks go where the food is."

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