Friday, January 16, 2009

Great White Shark Sighting

Reports of a Great White Shark Sighting

January 15, 2009 Print

Vol. 4, Issue 3, January 15–21, 2009

THE LATEST: E-mails were flying around this week as rumors of a great white shark sighting near the San Clemente Pier circulated throughout the city, and the city lifeguard station received numerous calls asking for verification. A posting on a Web site that tracks shark sightings and attacks said that on January 8 a man named Richard Thornton spotted what he thought was a 12- to 15-foot great white shark thrashing in the ocean about some 20 to 30 yards off Mariposa Street. “I was called by a friend who told me that a great white shark was in the water by the pier and to hurry down to check it out,” reads the posting on Shark Research Committee’s site. “Another person I know had just seen possibly the same shark at State Park 3 days prior. When I arrived we watched the shark thrash around in the water for several minutes…It rolled at one point before lifting its entire head several feet out of the water. It was amazing how large it was. One surfer got out of the water right away and asked if it was a whale or something.”

Efforts to try to reach Thompson were unsuccessful.

WHAT’S NEXT: San Clemente Marine Safety Chief Lt. Rod Mellot says his lifeguards were alerted, and despite extra patrols and vigilance, his staff has not spotted anything out of the ordinary. “As soon as we found out about it we alerted our lifeguards,” said Mellot, who noted that sightings are rare, especially at city beaches. “We checked the very next morning and have found nothing.”

The incident spurred a press release from City Manager George Scarborough on Tuesday in which Marine Safety Chief Bill Humphreys said “there has never been a confirmed shark attack in San Clemente, despite the hundreds of thousands of swimmers each year.”

Anyone who thinks they have sighted a shark should call the lifeguard tower at 949.361.8219. It is staffed seven days a week from dawn to dusk.