Fatal Shark Attack Closes N. SAN DIEGO Beaches This Weekend


With the weekend forecast promising dry winds and summery temperatures — classic Southern California beach weather — the thousands that typically would be expected to throng the Pacific shoreline will have to decide whether ignoring authorities and taking a dip is worth risking the danger officials believe still exists.

I guess that it was bound to happen some time, but no one new just when. Friday Morning at 7 a.m. a shark arose from the deep and snagged a swimmer about 100 yards of the California coast, at Fletchers cove in Solana Beach, just 15 miles North of San Diego. It is the first time that such an attack has occurred in Southern California in nearly fifty years.

The victim – David Martin – was swimming with a group of tri-athletes off Solana Beach at the time. Martin, 66, died on the beach Friday morning after a shark, presumed to be a great white, lifted him out of the water with his legs in its jaws, leaving deep lacerations and shredding Martin’s black wetsuit.

Martin, a retired veterinarian, was the first shark fatality in San Diego County since 1994. Prior to that, the last known fatal attack in the area was in 1959.

Even die-hards said word of the attack gave them pause. Sharks are rare in Southern California, though female great white sharks sometimes come south from their usual territory in the cooler waters of the central and northern coast to pup. Few make the mistake of attacking humans instead of seals or sea lions, their usual prey.

Earlier this year, stories of shark sightings swept the coast from San Diego County north through Orange and Los Angeles counties, the Los Angeles Times reported in late March.

The last fatal shark attack in California, according to data from the state Department of Fish and Game, took place on Aug. 15, 2004, off the coast of Mendocino County. The victim was a man diving for shellfish with a friend. On Aug. 19, 2003, a woman swimmer was killed by a great white at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County on the central California coast.

Overall, shark attacks are extremely rare. There were 71 reported worldwide last year, up from 63 in 2006. Only one attack, in the South Pacific, was fatal, according to the University of Florida.

The university’s International Shark Attack File has counted an average of 4.1 people killed by sharks annually worldwide in the past seven years.

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