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No shark panic in Laguna

Thousands visited Laguna's beaches over the weekend. Lifeguards not concerned about fatal attack in San Diego area.

April 28, 2008|By Ashley Breeding

Despite a fatal shark attack that occurred in San Diego’s Solana Beach Friday, there is no cause for alarm in Laguna Beach, Mark Klosterman, the city’s chief of Marine Safety said Monday. Solana Beach is about 60 miles south of Laguna Beach.

News of the fatal attack did not deter beachgoers over the weekend. The sand in Laguna was packed with sunbathers, and the ocean with surfers, swimmers, and kayakers. Beachgoers numbered between 35,000 and 40,000 on Saturday and Sunday, said Lt. Scott Diederich of the Marine Safety Department.

Klosterman said lifeguards will continue routine patrol of Laguna’s 5.5 miles of coastline, but there are no heightened alerts or warnings at this time.

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“Shark attacks are unusual and unlikely in Southern California,” Klosterman said. “Same as always, we’re advising the public to be aware of their surroundings and to notify lifeguards if they see a shark, at which time we’ll take proper measures.”

Dave Martin, 66, a veteran surfer, was swimming approximately 150 yards from shore when a shark attacked him in the lower legs, Solano Beach Public Information Officer Steve Didier said. Medical examiners believe the size and nature of the wounds indicate a Great White shark. Martin died from massive blood loss, while medical personnel tried to revive him.

Great White sharks are considered the largest predatory fish, and can reach 20 feet in length. They are not uncommon in waters off of Southern California.

Karen Williams of Soul Surfing School in Laguna Beach said there has been less interest in surf lessons this week, although it may be coincidental.

“I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the attack [in San Diego County] or if it’s because the surf just isn’t very good right now,” she said.

According to the Department of Fish and Game, there have been 95 shark attacks in Southern California since 1950, just 11 of which were fatal. These attacks are attributed to “mistaken identity,” in which surfers or swimmers wearing fins are mistaken for seals. The department advises swimmers and surfers to stay out of the ocean during times of reduced sunlight, such as foggy mornings and dusk, when attacks are most likely to occur.


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