Shark Scares at Sunset Cliffs and Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, La Jolla …

by on September 1, 2011 · 10 comments

in Ocean Beach, Popular

There have been numerous shark sightings along San Diego’s coast lately – including Sunset Cliffs – to give ocean-goers second thoughts. Or I should say, some ocean-goers.

Today, Thursday, September 1, around 9 a.m. a visiting Kentuckian reported spotting a dorsal fin slicing through the ocean off Sunset Cliffs, along the 1200 block of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. A guy near her checked it out with binoculars and followed the fin as it moved around offshore.

This resulted in a call to San Diego police officers who confirmed that they received a call reporting a dorsal fin spotted off the coast of Point Loma.  The sighting was near popular surfing spots, but surfers hadn’t moved out of the water an hour later, San Diego NBC reported.  This despite the usual procedure for lifeguards to shut down a beach for one mile in either direction after a confirmation of a shark sighting.  NBC reported:

 Lifeguards were patrolling the area in a boat but haven’t confirmed if the area had been closed to surfers and swimmers.

Yet, more recent reports say this “sighting” was unconfirmed. According to the North County Times:

A 12-inch fin being spotted about 100 to 200 yards offshore from the 1200 block of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard in the Point Loma-Ocean Beach area, San Diego police Officer Frank Cali said.   That report turned out to be not credible and the unguarded stretch of beach remains open, Luque said.

Also, a partially eaten baby seal was found near the Ocean Beach Pier Wednesday evening, according to SignOnSanDiego today:

“… the body of a seal that looked like it had been bitten by a large animal was discovered in Ocean Beach Wednesday night.   The partially-eaten carcass was pulled out of the water near Ocean Beach Pier about 9:30 p.m. by a fisherman, San Diego lifeguard Lt. Nick Lerma said.

 Lerma said it is presumed that the animal was killed by a shark.   Juvenile sharks feed on fish but as they get older and bigger their prey will include marine mammals like harbor seals, sea lions and elephant seals.”

Here is the list of recent sightings of sharks, according to local news reports:

  • June 9: A diver was attacked by a shark near Children’s Pool in La Jolla but he wasn’t injured.  The attack happened  as three divers were spear fishing. As the men were swimming back to shore, a shark bit one man in the calf, ripping his wet suit but not breaking the skin.  He was bringing a small bass back with him, and the shark may have been trying to bite the fish.
  • Aug. 16: San Diego Lifeguard Chief Rick Wurts said a kayaker reported seeing a shark Sunday morning while paddling about two miles off the coast of La Jolla Shores.   Wurts said the kayaker reported the shark was about eight-to-10 feet long — as big or bigger than the kayak.   Later Sunday afternoon, Wurts said several lifeguards at La Jolla Shores saw an 18- to 24-inch dorsal fin approaching the beach before it disappeared into the ocean.
  •  Aug. 25: Lifeguards closed a two-mile portion of Mission Beach after one lifeguard spotted what may have been a great white shark about 100 yards off shore.
  •  Aug. 26: A second shark sighting in two days shut down Mission Beach after a longtime surfer spotted a dorsal fin measuring about 14 inches.
  •  Aug. 31: Two boogie boarders were among those who reported a shark near the La Jolla Children’s Pool. A two-mile stretch from Hospital Point to Emerald Cove, including La Jolla Cove was closed.  It has since re-opened.

This is a truly bad time for sharks to show up, just as the surf gets good. Damn!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

La Playa Heritage September 1, 2011 at 11:49 am

Thanks for the story.


Frank Gormlie September 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Here are some things you ought to know about local sharks: Voice of San Diego


Jax September 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Although there have been quite a bit more sightings and in more locations than usual, seeing sharks in nothing new. I’ve surfed the Sunset Cliffs area for over 20 years and in that time have had at least 8 to 10 sightings. In fact if you Google Map South Garbage and zoom in on the outside boil there a nice little 6/8 footer cruising around right about were my feet usually dangle – and not a single #$&% was given.


OB Mercy September 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Geez, I did spend all last wknd boogie boarding at Dog Beach, and plan on doing it again this wknd. But thanks for all the info Frank.


Jax September 1, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Sunset Cliffs and Ladera . . Check it!


Patty Jones September 1, 2011 at 7:53 pm



Jack September 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm

That looks about the size of the White which cruised under me last summer while surfing about 50 yards from there…

I find it interesting how the lifeguards refer to the chewed up seal as being “bitten by a large animal.” I mean other than an Orca, what other large animal is chewing on baby seals around here? Lions? Tigers? Bears? Oh My’s?

What the article should be an alert to is the presence of seven gill sharks. These are a nasty territorial piece of work which are caught on a regular basis off the OB Pier. It is most likely the type of shark involved in the June 9 attack. They have a mean bite, but not a big enough mouth or the kind of teeth which will do much other than scare the poo out of you. My daughter and I were cruised by a 8-10 footer about 13 years ago in the cove.

The reason I mention it is because it took us months to figure out what kind of shark it was. Finally I got a hold of a fellow at Sea World and described it to him. He listened and seemed very surprised when he heard where I had seen it…You see, the seven gill shark is now native to San Diego waters…it wasn’t fifteen years ago. The species was found deeper along the Baja Peninsula toward the Sea of Cortez and points south.

Along with the presence of giant purple jelly fish, Humbolt Squid and increased sightings of Whites and Seven Gills, this is one native son who is thoroughly convinced global climate change is much more dramatic than we realize.

But then I’m not Republican…..


thinking out loud September 1, 2011 at 9:37 pm

kelp in the water…


JT September 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm

There have been five fatal unprovoked shark attacks in California since 2000.


Klarissa June 24, 2016 at 12:36 am

I have been born and raised in San Diego and learned how to swim at 6 months old and have been swimming in the ocean since I was 1. And I am starting to become terrified of the ocean because of the thought of sharks. I have never gone in the water during sunset and I never wear flashy swims suits. But can anyone tell me if I’m being paranoid or if there is an actual concern and it is a good idea to be careful?


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