Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 7:46 am | Fair 42º


David Bacon

Captain’s Log: Nearshore Sharks — Not Too Much to Worry About

A thresher shark, nicknamed the “longtail,” on a swim-by. Click to view larger
A thresher shark, nicknamed the “longtail,” on a swim-by. (David Bacon photo)

Not all sharks are man-eating relatives of the Megalodon. We’ve got some that are so beautiful they are entrancing, some that are ugly as an old fence post, some that are sinewy and graceful and some that have fascinating feeding habits and eat small stuff like mackerel. Not many are big-tooth sharks that you might have to worry about.

Now having said that, don’t go tempting sharks by sticking your great toe near its mouth — or your finger or any other body parts. I can’t guarantee that a frightened shark might not bite you to get away.

They are able to make a living finding stuff to eat but they aren’t exactly intelligent. And above all, they do not carry grudges and will not hunt or haunt you and remember you like in that ridiculous movie Jaws.

We fish for many species of sharks because they are fresh healthy and tasty table fare. After we battle and get a shark aboard the boat, we treat its business end with respect because it’s now a stressed animal and might react violently in order to try to escape.

One of the larger species we target for the dinner table is the thresher shark, which has a long powerful tail for whacking and stunning its prey. I’ve been clocked by those tails, and they hurt!

Another very popular shark for the dinner table is the leopard shark, which is truly a critter so beautiful it is almost stunning.

Other sharks we encounter near shore with some regularity are shovelnose (guitar fish), angel, sand, smoothhound, pinback, swell and mako.

On that list, the mako is the one I’d worry most about because it is a big-tooth shark and a large specimen may decide to bite a human.

Capt. Tiffany Vague shows off a beautiful leopard shark. Click to view larger
Capt. Tiffany Vague shows off a beautiful leopard shark. (David Bacon photo)

It puzzles me when people tend to shy away from the water when we pull in a bottom-dwelling shark while surf fishing.

People who wade out into the water share space with these sharks all the time without knowing it. They pretty much try to stay out of our way and will scurry off when touched or even approached.

Notice which shark has not been discussed as yet? Yup, the “Landlord,” aka the great white shark. All bets are off when that puppy glides in looking for groceries.

— 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.

  • 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 >

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 PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

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 >