Shark that killed surfer was great white, expert confirms

newsroom@thetribunenews.comOctober 23, 2012 

UPDATE 5:35 p.m. Wednesday: The shark that fatally attacked Francisco Javier Solorio Jr. has been identified as a 15- to 16-foot great white shark, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

Ralph Collier with the Shark Research Committee in Chatsworth made the determination after examining the victim's body.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said it will not release any other information about the shark attack.

UPDATE 11:15 a.m. Wednesday: Experts say the shark that bit and killed a surfer at Surf Beach near Lompoc probably was a great white and may have been 15 feet long.

Ralph Collier of the Shark Research Committee says he'll meet with investigators and examine the surfboard to study teeth marks but it's likely the attacker was a great white, which is not uncommon in California waters.

He also says it's likely the shark wasn't trying to kill the surfer but may have mistaken him for prey such as a seal and took a test bite that proved deadly.

Authorities have closed the beach about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, where another shark attack two years ago killed a 19-year-old surfer.

UPDATE 4:25 p.m.: The man killed in the shark attack has been identified by Santa Barbara County authorities as Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., 39, of Orcutt.

He was bitten by the shark in the upper torso, said sheriff's Sgt. Mark Williams. Three other men were at Surf Beach at the time of the attack, said Williams.

Original story: A male surfer died after a shark attack late Tuesday morning at Surf Beach near Lompoc, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has announced.

At 10:58 a.m., authorities received a distress call stating that a man had been bit by a shark while surfing near Surf Beach at Vandenberg Air Force Base. A friend, who was also surfing and witnessed the attack, swam over to help the victim, pulling him out of the ocean and onto the beach. The victim’s friend started first-aid procedures, while another surfer called 911.

The Vandenberg Air Force Base Fire Department arrived and took over emergency procedures. Paramedics pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

The name and age of the victim is being withheld until the next of kin can be notified.

Authorities told the Los Angeles Times that the man appeared to be between 25 and 33. He was unaffiliated with the Air Force base, they said.

The beach, which is located on the base, is also accessible to the public.

The type of shark involved and other details are still under investigation.

The attack comes two years after a 19-year-old Santa Barbara college student died after being attacked by a great white shark at the same beach.

The Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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