After numerous sightings of one or more great white sharks in the past few weeks at San Onofre State Beach, a surfer was attacked on Sat., July 11. The following report was provided to SurfPulse by the Shark Research Committee:
San Onofre State Beach — On July 11, 2009 Brian Hovnanian and companion Lance E. were Stand Up Paddleboarding at the reef south of Dog Patch, San Onofre State Beach. It was 8:30 AM and they had been on the water 1.5 hours. It was sunny with little or no wind and an air temperature in the low 70s Fahrenheit. The ocean was calm and glassy with water visibility 4–5 feet and a temperature in the upper 60s Fahrenheit. They were about 50 yards from shore over water about 6 feet deep with a sandy, rocky bottom. No marine mammals were observed in the area. Hovnanian reported: “I was paddle surfing at the reef south of Dog Patch, with one other paddle surfer, Lance E. I have had many shark sightings of 5′ to 6′ sharks jumping all of the way out of the water at this same place for the last two months, as I paddle surf there a couple times a week. I had not seen any today and did not see this one coming. We both had just ridden waves in from a nice set. As I was paddling out, my friend was paddling about 30 feet behind me when all of a sudden it felt like something hit the back of my SUP, then slammed into the back of my left calf, forcing me to lose my balance and I fell backwards. The shark was now on top of my SUP and I was lying backwards on top of the shark, as it was on my board. The shark slithered off the board back into the water. This all happened so fast, and I believe when I fell on the shark, it scared it and it tried to get away from the board and me. I still had my paddle in my hand, jumped to my feet on my board and looked at my leg, to notice nothing had happened to my body or board. By now my friend had paddled quickly to me and could not believe what he had just seen right in front of him. He made sure I was OK; luckily I was, then we paddled back out to the line-up and caught a wave from the next set and paddled in thinking how lucky I was. I’m not sure what kind of shark it was, but it did have a gray back and white underside and was about 5 feet in length. It might have been a Mako or White Shark.”
By definition an unprovoked shark attack is “any physical contact between a shark and human, or piece of equipment being utilized by a human, without any known provocative action by the subject which might cause the shark to strike out.” This is the second authenticated unprovoked shark attack for 2009 from the Pacific Coast of North America. Please report any shark sighting, encounter, or attack to the Shark Research Committee.