Fake news is all the rage these days if you are following all the mud slinging going on between the Trump Administration and Main Stream Media as well as both the left and right leaning news organizations hammering each other with accusation. Put the politics aside for a second! This story has nothing to do with politics but it involves an allegation of fake news that is really funny from someone in the South Orange County surf community that I have a ton of respect and admiration for.
I was meeting some body board friends up at Aliso Beach today. With inland temperatures in the 90’s, today was predictably a very busy day at the beach. When I got there, I heard a succession of whistles and my name called. The parking lot was packed and there was the hustle and bustle of cars on PCH, a parking lot of people fighting over few remaining spots, and the chatter of beach goers entering and leaving the sand with family, children and friends. A second whistle and I figured that it was intended for me. Looking back towards the direction of the sound, I saw my buddy Jack waving me down.
As we sat there watching the waves and talking, we were joined by several other body boarders from the community. While we were standing there, a man I know from the community walked up and asked me if I was deaf. I laughed and explained to him that I heard someone call my name but could not see where it was coming from. The dude I am referring to is none other than Mr. Tom Monroe. I explained to him that my eyes and ears are going just like everything else, and he laughed. Tom is a really cool guy. I should probably do a piece on him for the website.
The dude has a remarkable history as a Waterman, photographer, business man and realtor. He calls me to check in every so often, and truth be told, I love this guy! He is classic and also known as Mokitom.
So we got on the topic of the shark activity along our coast. Since I know he is out documenting the surf, skim, body board and beach scene at Aliso Beach and the Dana Point to South Laguna Beach region, I thought I would ask him what he had seen and captured. He told me that he and his friend Larry were down there at Capo today with a drone shooting footage of the sharks. Of course none of the video was ready for review, and Larry didn’t have his recently published drone footage on his phone so I accused Tom of teasing the video knowing I would not be able to see it. His response was a big grin and laughter. In my conversation with him, I asked him if he thought this was normal. His response was somewhat shocking. He blew it off saying the sharks have always been there and that this hoopla is nothing more than more people with cameras and drones. I told him that I had been studying the return of Great White Shark populations since 2007 when a surfer’s board was bitten in Huntington Beach. When I told him that there were now hot spots for Great White Sharks at San Onofre, Sunset Beach, Capo Beach and Long Beach, he looked at me and proclaimed “Fake News”! I don’t agree with his assessment of fake news, but I acknowledge his right to free speech in America. He is definitely someone knowledgeable in all things coastal South Orange County and the happenings at local beaches, but I feel I know enough about the proliferation of white sharks over the last decade around our coastline to make a legitimate argument in support of the idea that we have a new normal with Great White Sharks close to shore at South Orange County Beaches.
Before going home, I went to Capo Beach to check things out. There was definitely more swell in the water, and I noticed the shark advisory signs are still up lining the beach. I got out of the car and watched the near shore waters, where for two straight weeks, I have observed Great White Sharks within 10 feet of the shoreline thrashing around. I did not see sharks today as Tom had said were there, but I did see a seal swim north acting mysteriously while positioning itself in waters that were shallow. Could it be that Great White Sharks in the area had pinned this poor mammal along the shore at Capo Beach? I don’t know but it is certainly in the realm of possibilities. Assuming that it was getting harassed by hungry Great White Sharks at Capo Beach, I have to wonder how the seal feels about fake news.