Signs have been placed at city and county beaches warning swimmers to swim at their own risk this Labor Day after two sea lions were attacked — one fatally — by great white sharks over the weekend.
A dead sea lion washed up at Arroyo Burro Beach on Saturday, according to Sgt. Ed Stetson of the Santa Barbara City Harbor Patrol, prompting Santa Barbara County officials to put up notices at county beaches that a marine mammal had been attacked by a great white shark.
"That's their normal prey," he said. "That's what they do."
On Sunday, the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol found a second sea lion that had been attacked at one of the harbor entrance buoys.
Officials from the Marine Mammal Center came out to examine the sea lion and determined that its injuries weren't life-threatening, though it did have "a substantial bite," Stetson said.
"The lifeguards felt it was prudent to post warnings at the city beaches," he said.
Of swimmers taking to the water this Labor Day, Stetson said, "people need to make their own decision."
Kayak and stand-up paddle board rental companies have been briefed on the situation, and if no additional shark sightings are seen within 72 hours, the signs will be removed, Stetson said.