The view from Manhattan Beach pier. LAO file photo.
With all the media coverage of that weekend shark bite off the Manhattan Beach pier, Heal the Bay scientists have put together a fact sheet about sharks in Santa Monica Bay. The first thing to know is that your favorite media outlet may have over-hyped what happened. There was no unprovoked great white shark attack on a swimmer. An unaware swimmer crossed the path of a juvenile great white that was hooked and thrashing on a fishing line for 40 minutes, and in the melee the swimmer was bitten. "It is likely that the bite was accidental because the swimmer crossed the shark's path while it was in distress," Heal the Bay says. "Any animal that's fighting for its life is likely to feel provoked and threatened."
Here's Heal the Bay's full FAQ. Some highlights:
Santa Monica Bay is home to dozens of shark and ray species. Many of them are small, like the swell shark and horn shark, and live in kelp forests and rocky reefs. Juvenile great white sharks are seasonal residents of Southern California's coastal waters, likely congregating in Santa Monica Bay due to a mixture of abundant prey and warm water. Manhattan Beach has been an epicenter for sightings over the past few summers. White sharks are frequently spotted by boaters, pier-goers, surfers and paddlers--especially between the surf spot El Porto and the Manhattan Beach Pier. Juvenile white sharks, measuring up to 10 feet, prey mostly on bottom fishes such as halibut, small rays and other small sharks....
There are risks involved with any outdoor activity, so it’s important to be smart about where you swim. We'd like to remind people that poor water quality, powerful waves, strong currents and stingrays pose a greater threat to local ocean-goers than sharks. Instead of fearing the fin, swimmers should remember to shuffle their feet in the sand to avoid being stung by rays, be aware of lifeguard warnings about currents and waves and check Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card for water quality grades.