Tag Archives: Great White Sharks

Fake News

FAKE NEWS

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.

seal, capo beach, scared of sharks, great white sharks, great whites, great white sharks capo beach

Seal At Capo Beach

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Aliso Beach, beach news, Capo Beach, fake news Also tagged , , , |

Great White Shark Activity

GREAT WHITE SHARK ACTIVITY

great white shark, art, great white shark painting, Whitney L. Anderson

Whitney L Anderson with Great White Shark Painting

From the near fatal Great White Shark Attack at San Onofre weeks ago and the OC Sheriffs Helicopter warning a paddle boarder of being in the middle of a pack of 15 sharks to personally seeing sharks thrash around the water 10 feet or less from the sand and the OC Register report of a shark at Thousand Steps Beach, the danger has become very real to this South Orange County Body Boarder and ocean enthusiast. A friend in Laguna Beach had suggested that there was a sighting at Aliso Beach several weeks back and I immediately drove up to Aliso to speak with a lifeguard supervisor who was unaware of any sighting.  That day curiosity got the best of me and I headed to Capo Beach where there has been many daily sightings over the last several weeks.  Sure enough, I got to see them in the surf zone at a spot I have paddled out at in years past.  I was moved by the fear of a friend of mine who has been in the San Clemente to Laguna community as a former professional body boarder for the bulk of his life.  I would like to acknowledge Joe Grodzen and I wanted to relay the sentiment of what he said on Facebook.  He spoke of his deep ties to the ocean and those of his wife Keila whom is also a former professional body boarder.  Raising a young boy and giving him the gift of beach and surfing culture, it is not lost on Joe how concerning the rash of shark sightings from San Onofre to Long Beach, California is.  Joe for the most part is a very unflappable, competitive and in the moment kind of personality.  What he said was very raw and very real.  Reading his thoughts, I was affected by the fear he had related to the presence of these sharks in what perhaps is a new normal along our coastline with regular visits.  He echoed the sentiment that he may have to give a second thought to being in the water to keep he and his family safe.  Joe has been at this far longer than I have, and to hear a man that has spent nearly every day of his life since he has been old enough to walk in local ocean waters express a genuine concern for his safety, it definitely caught my attention.

Still trying to process the swarm of so many sharks in the area, I did return a second time to Capo Beach noticing the shark warning signs, and eventually seeing one splash around 10 feet or less from shore.  It is probably not a good idea to be in the water at all at Capo.  Rumor has it that boats and perhaps kayakers are chumming the waters to attract the sharks.  Some of these boats are alleged to be whale boats capitalizing on the presence of these toothy new inhabitants of Capo Waters.  Any reasonable human being should not approve of throwing blood and guts into the water near shore for commercial gain, capturing footage or taking photographs.  This is a really bad idea that may contribute to a fatality and should be stopped immediately.  My hope is the lifeguards and authorities can identify those perpetrators and force them to stop.  As far as I can see that is harassment of a federally protected shark but what do I know.  If this is being done please stop this very reckless behavior.

Since I spend more time at Salt Creek and the coves of Laguna Beach, I felt like I was relatively safe in the zones I like to play in.  Given the explosion of shark numbers close to shore in San Clemente and Capo Beach, the idea that there are no great whites near shore at Salt Creek and Laguna Beaches rests on quicksand.  It simply doesn’t hold.  A Laylan Connelly, Orange County Register Article, shattered my idealized safe zones with a shark spotting at South Laguna’s Thousand Steps Beach and the mention of a shark advisory at Salt Creek.  Say it isn’t so!  I don’t know what I am going to do personally and I am feeling like I may put myself on a self-imposed time out, and as Joe Grodzen so eloquently said, what are we going to do? Ocean enthusiasts have built their lives around washing away all that ails them in the ocean and doing something athletically that keeps them happy.  I don’t know the answer to this question, and I suppose time will tell.  Having paddled way out at Salt Creek and sitting in the kelp paddies, I admit that I have thought about the unseen below that perhaps I don’t want to know is there. The ocean and local waters are home to the Great White Shark, but I cannot say that in over the 30 years I have spent time in these waters, that this is normal in any way shape or form.   How I feel about this situation will in no way dictate the behavior of sharks and where they choose to set up shop.  While I pray that their presence will come to pass and they head out to deeper waters, their continued presence could put a damper on what little ocean time I have as it is.  Having had a fin pop up on me in Baja while body boarding alone at a northern stretch of La Fonda, I really don’t want to find myself in that situation again.  Fortunately, a well-timed set arrival got me out of there before I could stare into the intentions of presumably a Great White Shark…and I prefer that to be the last time I find myself in the water with one.

I would like to take a moment to thank my friend and artist Whitney L. Anderson, a brilliant painter and collage artist residing in Seattle, Washington.

Website:  http://www.whitneylanderson.com

Instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/whitneylanderson_art

 

Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Events, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Beach Park, Aliso Beach Safety, Aliso Creek, Aliso Creek Beach, Dana Point, Laguna, Laguna Beach, Laguna News, Salt Creek, South Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach News Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Shark Research

SHARK RESEARCH

shark warning, shark warning sigh, shark sign, capo beach

Capo Beach Shark Warning

After I heard this I decided to do some shark research today. A 50 year water man in Laguna Beach said online today there was a shark sighting at Aliso Beach.  He also said that in all his years that he had never heard of a shark reported in the intertidal zone of Laguna Beach. To be clear, this reported sighting is unconfirmed, but you can appreciate that as the owner of the Aliso Beach website and an avid body boarder that has spent a ton of time at Aliso and neighboring Laguna beaches, I am simultaneously concerned and intrigued by the recent hot spots for sharks at San Onofre, Poche Beach, Capo Beach and Long Beach.

When I got to Aliso Beach this afternoon, I got my parking pass and wasted no time finding the lifeguard supervisor. He was a cool guy, and I am sure that what I asked him is something that has been asked since Orange County News showed a helicopter warning a paddle boarder that he or she was in the middle of a pack of as many as 15 Great White Sharks in the surf zone.  When I informed him that I had a question for him, I told him that I didn’t want to shout out my question.  As I got closer to him, I very discreetly asked him about the alleged shark sighting. He was unaware of  any recent event.  They were training aspiring life guards on the beach so I am 100% sure that OC Life Guards would not expose those kids to unnecessary risks.  So the mystery deepens as it relates to the alleged sighting of sharks at Aliso Beach.  I left the beach assured that there were no issues of Great White Sharks and the absence of media attention, adds to the case that Great White Sharks had not been observed at this popular South Laguna Beach.  I did greatly appreciate the time afforded to me by the supervisor and the willingness to discuss the potential issue.  He was a cool guy and I trust in what he told me. As he indicated, you would have to be a silly white shark to want to take on the shore break conditions of Aliso Beach. With this news I am sure a talented young skimmer with dreadlocks that frequents this local spot is breathing a sigh of relief.  That is just me being funny.  I suspect that very few, if any, wave riding enthusiasts had heard about this shark sighting at Aliso Beach.  Shark research was to continue as I got back onto S. Pacific Coast Highway and headed south.

When I got to Capo Beach, I immediately noticed the traffic stand barriers with the shark warnings attached to then.  It was one of 3 or 4 I saw lining the beach to warn beach visitors of the presence of Great White Sharks. I must admit this is super freaky, and although I have heard of sharks present in local waters, this fact has not hit this close to home until now. Looking south, I noticed a couple of life guards huddled up by the tower and looking out over the water.  I walked up to them and began a conversation about the sharks, and they were definitely there to keep an eye on things and make sure people are informed.  As the shark warnings clearly stated, by entering the water you were swimming or surfing at your own risk.

We discussed theories on why the sharks are there.  It was a cool conversation.  I have always found OC Life Guards to be a class act, and as we talked a shark surfaced and thrashed around a bit. Until that moment, I had never seen a Great White Shark in Southern California waters. I found it surreal.  Capo Beach isn’t the best surfing, body boarding or even swimming beach due to a sloping beach, waves crashing right on the sand, and a fair amount of small rocks lining the shore.  Nonetheless, life guards were keeping everyone informed and watching for the presence of sharks which numbered 15 several days ago.

I talked to them about how I was following the Great White Shark population resurgence with federal protections extended to them and the seal population which represents meals on the preferred menu for these toothy creatures.  Having kept up to date with shark sightings in Southern California, I told them about Ralph Collier and Pacific Shark Committee.  Ralph is a leading scientist and expert on Great White Sharks and predatory behavior in North America. The life guards told me that Chris Lowe, the California State University Long Beach Great White Shark expert and researcher, was working with OC Life Guards on tagging the sharks to gain a better understanding of migratory patterns.  I was a bit surprised to learn that they were doing the tagging via jet skis.  Initially I had asked for a seat in that boat but quickly changed course when I found out that they were doing this on the much smaller and more exposed water vehicles.  That is a little too close and not enough protection for this fat, old guy.

Reality is that local Orange County Waters we hold dear as surfers, swimmers and body boarders, are the homes of Great White Sharks.  To some extent they have always been there.  Perhaps the record rain and runoff combined with cooler waters, spring wind patterns and upwelling are creating perfect conditions for movements in the food chain that have these sharks closer to shore to feed.  While I don’t have all of the answers with my shark research, the numerous sightings from Long Beach to San Onofre have definitely captivated me.  Let’s hope we do not have any more encounters like we saw at San Onofre where a Vista woman was attacked, bitten and air lifted to the hospital clinging to life. I am pleased to say that she made it.  Despite additional surgeries coming and a long road back to as normal a life as she can have given the serious injury to her leg, she is alive and not wishing sharks any ill will.

Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Creek, Aliso Creek Beach, Laguna, South Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach News Also tagged , , , , , |

Great White Sharks

GREAT WHITE SHARKS

I personally do not know of anyone that has encountered a Great White Shark at Aliso Beach nor have I heard anything about Aliso Beach Great White Sharks.  I am not suggesting that Aliso Beach currently has a problem but the recent attack on professional surfer Mick Fanning on a contest  live feed from South Africa’s Jeffrey’s Bay reminds us that as ocean enthusiasts and wave riders, we play in waters that are home to Great White Sharks. Hitting closer to home, a friend reported on Facebook that he was chased by a juvenile Great White Shark out of the water yesterday in the Seal Beach area. This combined with fairly common reports of Great Whites off of San Onofre Beach in San Clemente, recent lifeguard confirmed sightings from the San Clemente pier area, a pack of Great Whites caught on video by a lifeguard drone in the Surfside Beach area of  Huntington Beach and daily logs of sighting on the website Pacific Shark News which researches and covers movement and predation of Great White Sharks from Southern California to Washington, makes you wonder if we have a problem.  Click on the link in the previous sentence for Pacific Shark News and scroll down to a July 10th entry from Laguna Beach where a body boarder encountered what he believes was a Great White Shark. Having paid attention to Great White Shark activity along the California Coastline for about a decade and reading the logs at Pacific Shark Committee news, the description that Ryan Vaughn offers for the approach of the shark sounds very much like that of a juvenile Great White.

Thousand Steps Beach I would guess is less than 2 miles from Aliso Beach in Laguna.  When I ask the question as to whether or not there are Aliso Beach Great White Sharks, I can with relative certainty say they are there and have always been there.  These waters are home to Great White Sharks and we know it.  The entire Laguna Beach coastline features inter-coastal reefs, headlands and kelp beds that support a diversity of sea life including seals which are a part of the menu for White Sharks. Strangely enough, Laguna Beach encounters are few and far between as I have found from watching Pacific Shark News but I have to believe they are at Aliso Beach and all over Laguna.

Why do I believe this? First and foremost, the ocean is their home.  Years ago seals and Great White Sharks were federally protected. Protection for seals has led to an expansion of the primary food source for adult Great White Sharks. As the food goes, so does the population of White Sharks with significant increases in numbers in recent years.  This by no means insinuates that Great White Sharks are out of danger in our Pacific waters but does speak to their come back with their own protection in addition to the protection of seals. We also know that juvenile White Sharks like to eat sting rays.  Laguna Beach waters have rays.  I have read that Grey Whales head back to the Arctic from Baja with their young while hugging the Southern California coast to fend off attacks from Great White Sharks.  They seem to like the waters off Laguna Beach and I have read that the shallower areas of the coastline are favored by mothers protecting their calves. knowing what I know about Great White Sharks, the shallower waters would decrease opportunities for surprise ambushes on the Grey Whale calves as being escorted to the feeding grounds to the north by their protective mothers.

Scaring people with this is not the point.  This serves as a reminder to people that when we are in the water at Aliso Beach or any California beach along the Pacific Ocean for that matter, we are entering the home of the Great White Shark. There are no reports that I have seen of Aliso Beach Great White Sharks but I am certain they are around. While the horrifying footage of the shark attack on Mick Fanning went viral and became the talk of people thousands of miles from the nearest ocean, we shouldn’t be surprised that this happens every so often and all we can do is hope and pray that when it does, that whomever was attacked walks away just like Mick did.  For an ichthyologist’s perspective on the Mick Fanning Shark attack, click the link!

 

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