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Newport Beach reopened after shark sighting

FILE PHOTO: A great white shark seen off the coast of Guadalupe Island in Mexico.
FILE PHOTO: A great white shark seen off the coast of Guadalupe Island in Mexico.
Brook Ward/Flickr Creative Commons

Newport Beach reopened Thursday after reports of a shark sighting closed off a 2-mile stretch of ocean to swimmers late Wednesday afternoon. 

The shark, reported as a great white, was initially spotted by authorities at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Jon Mitchell, a lifeguard captain for Newport Beach. The shark was about 100 yards offshore near 36th Street, he told KPCC. There were no attacks or injuries.

With the weather (and water) potentially warming up, more swimmers will come. However, there's no looming fear of sharks hanging over authorities, Mitchell said.

“There’s going to be more people in the water as water temperature increases … it’s more likely that people will go out and swim," he said. "We’re seeing these sharks all the way up to Seal Beach and Huntington Beach and here and San Clemente. Right now we don’t see it posing a great threat because they’ve been out in the water forever.”

Mitchell also noted that calls about shark sightings could be in reality the viewings of porpoises or dolphins in the water. Also, the availability of newer and better tech – like drones – means its become easier to see sharks.

Utilizing the buddy system and telling others where you'll be going before engaging in long-distance swimming are among Mitchell's recommendations to stay safe in the water. If you do see something and are sure it's a shark, tell a lifeguard or law enforcement official as soon as possible, he said. Also, he says, keep in mind that shark attacks are still quite rare.

"I'd say you're more likely to get hit by lightning than get bit by a shark," he said.