Environment & Science

2nd shark sighting at Dana Point beach

FILE PHOTO: People exit the beach near a
FILE PHOTO: People exit the beach near a "Recent Shark Sighting" sign near where a colony of several hundred seals often rest on a sandbar at High Head Beach on Cape Cod on August 12, 2012 in Truro, Massachusetts.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Update, Thu. July 8, 8:04 a.m. - As of 8 a.m. this morning, the signs warning swimmers to enter the water at their own risk have been taken down.

Visit Salt Beach in Dana Point and you can't help but notice the signs. Posted along the nearly 2-mile stretch, they warn swimmers to enter the water at their own risk.

A shark was spotted by lifeguards in Dana Point around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Orange County Register, less than a day after another sighting. Wednesday's shark was just 100 yards from shore, Orange County Lifeguards Chief Jason Young told the Register — and also for a second a search party was unable to find it.

Just a day earlier, on Tuesday at around 4 p.m., a shark was spotted breaching approximately 300 yards offshore. Lifeguards cleared the beach and began patrolling the area via jet skis and helicopters, but couldn't find any sign of it.

After an hour, at around 5 p.m., swimmers were allowed to return to the water. However, the shark sighting advisory remained in effect Wednesday, according to the Register. Officials plan to re-evaluate the advisory 18 to 24 hours after Wednesday's sighting.

Breaching is unusual behavior for sharks, according to the Register, but sightings have been more frequent than normal over the past couple months. There have been several spotted in Huntington Beach. One attacked a swimmer in Corona del Mar.

The size and species of the shark recently spotted in Dana Point remain unknown but it's not uncommon to see young great whites in the area.

David Bader, director of education at the Aquarium of the Pacific, tells KPCC that because of policies enacted to protect the shark population, the number of great white sharks may be increasing.

"Great white sharks, the juveniles, like to hang out along the coast close to shore," Bader says. "We believe Southern California is a pupping area for them. Moms come down, they have their babies and then those babies spend time eating fish."

Are visions of "Jaws" racing through your head? No need to panic.

Juvenile sharks under 10 feet are mostly fish eaters, feasting on fish, stingrays and maybe smaller sharks.

Young urges caution — and calm.  

"Shark attacks are extremely rare along our coastline," he says. "Basic awareness is key. But overall we want to encourage people to still come to the beach and enjoy the beach because statistically it's a very slim chance that they would be injured by a shark."

This story has been updated.