Shark sighting triggers warning at Stinson Beach

June 20, 2011 9:46:45 AM PDT
The U.S. Coast Guard spotted a great white shark on Sunday. The National Park Service immediately ordered swimmers out of the water. It was spotted a mile north of Stinson Beach at Seadrift Beach, about 200 to 300 yards offshore. Beachgoers are only allowed to go knee-deep in the water, at least for the next several days.

Lifeguards went up and down Stinson Beach on the lookout for a shark. The great white was spotted a mile north, just before two p.m. on Sunday, and that's when lifeguards told everyone to get out of the water.

"It was pretty dramatic. The beach was completely empty of the water in like five minutes," said beachgoer Laurel Waltz.

The Coast Guard spotted the 8 to 10 foot-long shark by helicopter, near Bolinas. An off-duty lifeguard fishing at the time confirmed the sighting. The National Park Service is now imposing restrictions on anyone who goes in the water.

"We will restrict the water to swimmers to knee-swimming for the next five days and we right now are set to close through Thursday," said Lifeguard Amanda Norton.

Not everyone got the word; lifeguards spent the afternoon repeating the warning, one person at a time. The restrictions were disappointing to some, including 11-year-old Bryce Pamer of Concord.

"I really wanted to go boogie boarding today. But we couldn't, my mom was like, 'don't go past your ankles' and I went, 'come on!'" said Bryce Pamer.

"I know they come close to people and I know sometimes we may not be part of their regular diet, but they might accidentally take a bite and I don't want that to happen," said beachgoer Julie Pamer.

The National Park Service said while these shark sightings are not common, they're not exactly rare. At Stinson Beach, they usually happen a couple times a year.

Workers at Stinson Beach Surf and Kayak, which rents out surfboards, hope the water restrictions won't go more than the planned five days. This company relies on the weekends for most of their business.

"This is the jump off to the summer season, so it's a pretty big deal to get a good start especially in this area -- it's such a seasonal area. We get no business in the winter time so it is a big deal," said Andre Kirsch of Stinson Beach Surf and Kayak.

The National Park Service said unless there are more shark sightings, the deeper waters will be re-opened by Friday.


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