Sharks spotted off Capitola coast

November 16, 2010 5:56:00 PM PST
Bay Area beachgoers are being warned about sharks in the water. No one has been attacked, but there have been several sightings in the water off the beach in Capitola.

Some people think they have seen great white sharks out there, so the warnings are up.

Police posted warning signs after surfers reported two great white shark sightings on Wednesday. A fisherman also spotted a shark on Tuesday.

"If that shark wanted to eat me, it would," said diver Jack Digby.

Digby is sure he's seen three great whites in three weeks.

"I think the sharks cruise along the outside," said Digby pointing to an area past where the boats usually sit. "Normally I've seen them maybe every other year; I've never seen them this close to the shores before."

Great whites are normally spotted in this area from six to several dozen times from Sept. until Jan., but this year the sightings started in June.

When asked if he was convinced if these sharks were great whites, Sean Van Sommeran answered "Nope."

Van Sommeran is with the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation. He says this time of year, basking sharks, which are toothless and often mistaken for great whites, are more likely to swim in these waters.

A photo taken earlier this month near Big Sur shows the large fin of a basking shark sticking out of the water. Van Sommeran expects the signs will draw even more people to the beaches.

"People go do go down thinking they might see one. It's really a needle in a hay stack. So I don't know if it keeps people out of the water; I don't see a diminishing of people going to the coast," said Van Sommeran.

The beach was packed and plenty of people were in the water on Wednesday.

"I'm still going to go out because we're on vacation and you come here to go in the water," said Marisa Chirico from Campbell.

Some did heed the warning and are taking their own precautions.

"I don't think I'm going to go swimming out to the booey right now, but five feet in the water, that seems fine to me," said Dana Cullinane from Los Gatos.

While the beach and water are not closed to the public, lifeguards are on alert.


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