DEL MAR, Calif — A popular Del Mar beach has been closed after a shark attack was confirmed around 10 a.m. on Friday near the 17th St. beach.
Del Mar lifeguards said that a female swimmer was in waist-deep water with another person when they noticed the swimmer was waving her arms, looking like she was in distress. When the lifeguards responded, they pulled the swimmer onto shore and saw that her injury was consistent with a shark bite.
The swimmer was given medical aid and was then transported to a local hospital in stable condition.
The beach and water access have been closed north and south of 17th Street off of Coast Blvd. for the next 48 hours.
Per Shark Lab protocol, the beach was closed. Lifeguards did a search of the water nearby and did not spot any sharks in the immediate area.
Lifeguards will perform drone flyovers and patrol the area throughout the weekend from dawn until dusk in search of sharks, they advised.
The presumed attack occurred five days after the carcass of an 8-foot juvenile great white shark that appeared to have been injured by a large fishing hook washed ashore at Torrey Pines State Beach in San Diego, authorities said.
The state-funded Cal State University Shark Lab started researching and taking drone videos of a group of sharks that moved into the waters off Del Mar between Solana Beach and Torrey Pines.
The lab says the sharks find a place they like and that group or cluster lives there until they decide to move on.
Chris Lowe is the Director of the CSULB Shark Lab. He says, “People and juvenile white sharks are interacting daily at those beaches. We've documented hundreds of times when sharks and people were within just a few feet of each other.”
In the 3 years since the shark cluster moved in, Lowe and Shark Lab researchers have tagged 62 Great White Sharks in these waters.
Drone video shows a group of them swimming just beyond where the waves start to crash.
“They'll come into water 4-5 feet deep at the shallowest and sometimes we see them within 50 feet of the shoreline. A lot depends on how much swell there is. They don't like being in the wash. So quite often they're just outside the wave break and typically we see them about 100 yards off shore," Lowe said.
Lowe says he was shocked when he was told a woman was bit while swimming today. He says it’s the first incident since the group showed up. He says, “I am surprised because 3 years of sharks and people hanging out together and nothing and then suddenly to have this happen is really surprising to me.”
Lowe says there have been 6 shark bite incidents in all of Southern California this year. He says scientists don’t know exactly why sharks occasionally bite people, but they assume it’s a mistake since they don’t eat humans and it appears they lose interested after they bite into a person. Lowe says it’s also possible they feel threatened when they do bite.
Lowe says within this cluster off the coast of Del Mar, they’ve seen 40 sharks in one place at one time.
So what should you do if you see a shark? Lowe says, “If you’re out in the water and you see a shark, first of all it’s a really cool thing. But always keep your eye on the shark. Let the shark know you see it. They’re predators like a mountain lion or a bear. If you’re on a surfboard, turn your surfboard toward the shark. Let the shark know you’re watching it and quite often once they know they’re sighted, they’ll take off.”
Lowe also suggests to swim in groups and surf in groups. He says the probability of getting bitten goes down if people are in groups. “You’re far more in danger driving to the beach than you ever would be from being in the water with a white shark," Lowe said.
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