For the second time this month, a great white shark sighting has prompted Santa Barbara officials to post warning signs at city beaches, advising swimmers and surfers to avoid marine life and enter the water at their own risk.
A veteran commercial fisherman returning to the docks reported seeing a 15-foot great white shark near the entrance channel to the Santa Barbara Harbor at about 2:30 p.m. Monday, according to harbor operations manager Mick Kronman.
The sighting was confirmed as credible, and city staff members personally informed beach-goers in addition to posting the fliers, Kronman said.
It’s standard protocol for the city to post warnings after sightings, especially given the recent history of sightings and a confirmed shark attack on a sea lion in late July, he said. If there are no other sightings or evidence of attacks on marine life, the signs will be taken down in 72 hours — on Thursday afternoon.
A surfer reported seeing a great white shark off Leadbetter Point the evening of Aug. 14, and another great white was reported by a fisherman off Goleta Beach on Aug. 21.
As of then, the California Department of Fish and Game had tallied 13 fatal white shark attacks, with records kept since the 1920s. Its data also shows 20 of 95 attacks occurring south of Point Conception, and attacks have not increased proportionately to growing use of the ocean by people, including swimmers, surfers and scuba divers.
Scroll down for a diagram on comparing great white sharks compared to other sharks in the same family.
The DFG describes white sharks as: “White sharks have heavy spindle-shaped bodies with conical snouts and a narrow tail stalk supported by stout lateral keels. Their coloration reflects a sharp demarcation between dark upper surfaces and white lower surfaces. The pectoral fins have a white trailing edge, black tips on the undersides, and a black spot occurs at the pectoral axil (‘armpit’) in some individuals. Their jaws are loaded with large, triangular, serrated teeth.”