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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 4:05 am | Fair 48º


Captain’s Log: Local Shark Adventures to Make You Think

A fishing friend of mine was trolling Rapala lures behind his boat this week just a couple miles from Santa Barbara Harbor, when he spotted something on the calm surface that piqued his interest. It was two fins that looked like they might belong to two large mola mola (aka sunfish).

He turned to check them out more closely, and as he approached they turned in unison. My friend realized it was a very large shark, patrolling the surface.

As the boat passed the shark a respectable distance away, the shark turned, ate up the distance in the blink of an eye and inhaled a Rapala lure. Upon feeling/tasting the strange lure and feeling the line go tight, that shark jumped 10 feet into the air and executed a somersault that warranted a perfect score of 10. It was clearly a large mako shark of about 10 to 12 feet, making it weigh probably well more than 500 pounds.

After re-entering the water with a fine splash, that bundle of muscle blasted skyward again and again, putting on an incredible aerial show before settling into a steady skulking swimming pattern that towed the boat at will.

Better than an hour passed by with the shark showing no signs of fatigue from pulling a boat around the ocean. Finally it gnawed through 100-pound leader and went on its way, probably without every fully realizing that it might have had a serious problem.

There have been other shark scares along the local coast recently. In one case, up by the campgrounds below Gaviota, a white shark bumped a kayak in a meaningful way, lifting the tiny vessel partway out of the water. I’m guessing that the kayaker wonders to this day what might have happened had he fallen out of the kayak.

Other recent sightings have been reported to me at Hook, Line & Sinker fishing center in Santa Barbara — sightings from both the coast and the Channel Islands. Hopefully this bodes well for the effectiveness of fisheries management efforts, which very much include sharks.

Squid spawns of epic proportions are fueling this phenomenon. Squid spawns attract squid-eaters such as birds, fish and pinnipeds. Some of those in turn tempt sharks into our area and keep them there looking for opportunistic meals.

This is our favorite time of year to take to sea, so I’ll just say: Be careful out there!

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

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