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Newport and Huntington beaches reopen after surfer's shark sighting

A 200-yard stretch of Newport and Huntington beaches reopened to swimmers Friday morning after a reported shark encounter that forced beachgoers out of the water the day before.

Authorities closed the water from Newland Street in Huntington Beach to 56th Street in Newport Beach around 4 p.m. Thursday after a surfer reported an 8-foot shark had bumped his board, lifting him about a foot out of the water just north of the Santa Ana River at Huntington State Beach. The surfer was not injured, the Daily Pilot reported.

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The shark's contact with the surfer was considered to be "aggressive behavior" and prompted the closure, Newport Beach lifeguard Battalion Chief Mike Halphide said. The shark's species is not known.

Huntington State Beach reopened to surfers and swimmers about 6 a.m. Friday, but Newport's stretch of beach remained closed until about 10:30 a.m. as rescue boats and a helicopter combed the shoreline for the shark.

"We have increased lifeguard patrols to ensure there isn't any other kind of occurrence," said California State Parks Capt. Kevin Pearsall.

Signs warning of a shark sighting were posted along vehicle entrances to Huntington State Beach and at the Newport Beach lifeguard towers, cautioning surfers and swimmers to enter the water at their own risk.

Carpio and Fry write for Times Community News.

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