Beaches are safe despite shark attack, experts say | Local News | PE.com | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern CaliforniaPosted: November 3rd, 2010 | Author: jason | Filed under: sharks, wildlife | Tags: beaches, carrie wilson, com, Game, great white shark, Local, marine biologist, ocean mammals, sea lions, seals and sea lions, southern california news, uc santa barbara, vandenberg air force, vandenberg air force base, water | No Comments »
Beachgoers shouldn’t be afraid to go into the water despite the fatal shark attack on a Romoland teen near Lompoc, oceanographers and biologists said.
Lucas Ransom, 19, was killed Oct. 22 by a great white shark while bodyboarding with his roommate, about 100 yards off shore from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
His UC Santa Barbara roommate, Matt Garcia, reported Ransom was swimming when Ransom was pulled under the water. His bodyboard popped back to the surface with a 13-inch chomp taken out of it, and the water filled with blood. Ransom’s left leg was severed. He was pronounced dead on the shore.
Such attacks are rare, and sharks don’t prefer humans as their prey, experts said. In Ransom’s case, and similar shark attacks, the sharks usually mistake humans for other ocean mammals such as seals or sea lions. State Fish and Game officials said they believe that confusion occurred when Ransom was lying on his bodyboard with his feet hanging off the end.
Beachgoers just need to be aware of sharks’ presence and avoid coves and areas where seals and sea lions may congregate, Fish and Game officials said.
“More people are in the water up and down the coast and we know the sharks are out there looking for food,” Fish and Game Marine Biologist Carrie Wilson said. “Every once in a blue moon we have these things occur. When you look at the number of people in the water, (the number of attacks is) pretty small. The shark wasn’t doing anything sharks don’t do. It was just looking for prey.”
Wilson said the attack was likely a great white, based on the aggressive behavior and the reported length of the shark, estimated at 14 to16 feet.
“These sharks really don’t have much interest in humans. We’re too skinny compared to seals and sea lions,” Wilson said. “They want the blubber and high meat content.”
“The behavior is what you’d expect from a great white,” Wilson added. “The typical mode of hunt is an ambush predator. They like to take their prey by surprise and come from underneath.”
There have been 95 attacks on humans off the California coast in the past 50 years, Wilson said.
There have been four fatal great white shark attacks in the past decade, compared to eight others in the 50 years before, according to Fish and Game. Before Ransom, the most recent came in April 2008, when a man was killed off Solana Beach.
More sharks have moved closer to California beaches since the state banned fishery gillnets off the coast within three miles, Wilson said. That has lead to an increase in seal populations and a rise in great white sharks. The sharks tend to prefer the coastline’s temperate waters.
After the attack, Lucas’ father, Matt Ransom, e-mailed friends and family members, thanking them for their support and condolences.
Ransom and Garcia both swam competitively at Perris High School.
“He lived real well and he died real well. He was in the water for about 45 minutes before the shark got him and his buddy told us he was getting the rides of his young life, on a day with big swells,” the e-mail read.
“He and his brothers have always been an inspiration for me as their father. A big part of him will remain with me until we meet up again. All you parents should enjoy and hold close your sons and daughters. They are only on loan from God.”