Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 4:16 pm | A Few Clouds 72º


Captain’s Log: The Shark You See ... Is Probably Least Likely to Attack

I breathe a sigh of relief when I see a shark. It’s because if I’m seeing it, that shark has already decided against taking a bite out of me. Instead, it is just swimming about for the sake of curiosity or still engaged in its search for supper. If it planned on dining on me, the attack would be sudden and stealthy.

People swimming or fishing from a kayak, float tube, paddle board or even personal watercraft worry about sharks — and for good reason.

There have been multiple recent and local incidences of sharks bumping kayaks and swimming by paddle boarders.

Are there more sharks lately? It’s possible, but I don’t have enough good evidence to convince me of an increase or decrease in the local shark population. They are probably here because of the amount of good food in our waters.

Mostly folks are worried about great white sharks, though it isn’t the only big shark cruising our local waters. Just a couple of weeks ago, a mako, weighing well more than 500 pounds, was hooked just off the Santa Barbara harbor. Makos are capable of attack on people, but it is rare because this is a long, slender and very fast shark, ideally suited for chasing other prey.

People are notoriously slow in the water and easy to catch. That is why great white sharks are so well designed. When you see a 12-foot white, the girth on that thing is probably 6 to 8 feet. It has a very big belly to fill. In sportfishing circles, we call the great white shark “The Landlord,” and we know that it swims about collecting rent from the community.

People who take to sea in tiny craft know the risks and choose to pursue their sport anyway. Yes, the Landlord may come collect rent, and it will probably be a surprise and very quick attack. But the chances are miniscule. The sight of a large shark cruising nearby is exhilarating because it strikes a primal chord in us. We inherently know our relative place in the food chain, all things being equal. Bigger boats are safer, no doubt.

We tell our passengers aboard our charter boat, WaveWalker, “You’re at the very top of the food chain ... as long as you stay on the boat!”

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >