Great white sharks spotted off two Orange County beaches; swimming ban in effect
Lifeguards warned swimmers and surfers to stay out of a stretch of ocean at two Orange County beaches Friday after a great white shark was spotted near the shore.
A helicopter crew saw the 11- to 14-foot shark swimming 100 feet off Bolsa Chica State Beach about 10:40 a.m., according to Lt. Claude Panis, a spokesman for the Huntington Beach Fire Department’s Marine Safety Division. A 6- to 7-foot juvenile great white shark was also spotted in the water Friday morning, he said.
After the first sighting, lifeguards banned swimming from Warner Avenue to north Anderson Street in Sunset Beach. A mile of shoreline in Bolsa Chica State Beach was also closed.
“Heed the signs,” Panis said. “We are looking out for the public’s safety.”
The water is expected to open after 24 hours if there are no additional sightings, state parks spokesman Kevin Pearsall said.
Pearsall saw two surfers braving the waves early Friday afternoon despite the warnings. More than 25 surfers heeded lifeguards who advised them to leave the water, he added.
“It’s the third sunny day in a row in a long time. There’s no wind. It’s a perfect beach day, so we had a lot of surfers in the water this morning,” Pearsall said. “Most are complying with the request.”
Pearsall said the area is near where a group of juvenile great whites were lingering in 2015.
“The last few years we haven’t heard anything about them,” he said.
Friday was the first time this portion of the state beach has been closed in more than a year.
Great white sharks have been reported several times this month elsewhere in Huntington Beach. On Tuesday, lifeguards issued a shark advisory after a group of anglers accidentally reeled in a great white in Sunset Beach. On Feb. 14, a fisherman hooked what appeared to be a juvenile 7-foot great white off the end of the Huntington Beach Pier.
Authorities have said shark sightings are becoming more common in the area. A 2014 survey found there were about 2,400 great white sharks living in California waters.
Last year, Chris Lowe, head of the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach, said he suspected that number has grown because of improved ocean-water quality and higher ocean temperatures.
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