PHOTO COURTESY OF Eric Martin A great white shark caught off of the Manhattan Beach Pier last summer.
A shark sighting in the water off El Porto in Manhattan Beach Tuesday evening prompted a closure of the beach until Wednesday morning.
Around 6:25 p.m., a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter was patrolling the north end of Manhattan Beach coastline near El Porto when the crew spotted “what appeared to be two large sharks”—approximately six feet in length—swimming within 15 feet of two surfers, LASD Sgt. Morrie Zager said.
Via the helicopter’s PA system, LASD personnel notified the two surfers about the sharks and advised them to paddle to shore, he said.
The sharks were sighted swimming about 75 to 100 yards off shore, Zager said. He said he has no information on what type of sharks they were.
A county lifeguard boat subsequently responded to the area and per instruction from LASD personnel asked swimmers to clear the water, said Kyle Daniels, a captain ocean lifeguard for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Daniels said he suspects the sharks could have been juvenile great whites, but ultimately “nothing that’s warranted a threat to the public.”
Sightings of juvenile great white sharks are not uncommon in the waters off Manhattan Beach. Last summer, between July and October, a fisherman caught and released four great whites on three separate occasions. Between November 2011 and October 2012, there have been at least seven great white sightings off the Manhattan Beach pier, according to Eric Martin, director of Roundhouse Aquarium.
Martin previously told Easy Reader News that young great whites pose little danger to surfers or swimmers.
“These are juvenile great white sharks,” Martin said. “There’s only ever been one documented report of an 8-footer biting a surfer in the leg, and that was in South Africa.”
Martin said he thinks that the abundance of squid off the coast could be attracting the great whites to the area. While young great whites are not known to feed on squid, large great whites are, he said.
Or it could be that the squids are attracting a large volume of rays, another food source for young great whites, Martin said.
“So somewhere, there’s a food chain going on here,” he said.