A confirmed shark sighting Wednesday morning prompted about 70 people to retreat from the water and the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol to repost warning signs along the coast near Morro Rock.
Harbor Patrol Supervisor Becka Kelly said that lifeguards reporting to work at lifeguard Tower One on the beach just north of the rock witnessed the exodus from the water at about 10 a.m.
They interviewed 10 surfers who reported seeing the shark from at least 30 feet away.
“They were all thinking great white,” Kelly said. When they were asked the size of the animal, she said: “Their eyes got large and they said, ‘big.’”
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The average reported size was about 10 to 12 feet, she said.
Harbor Patrol responded to the beach and conducted interviews before posting 72-hour warning signs.
Those signs had just come down after a Los Osos woman’s surfboard suffered a half-moon-shaped bite about 13½ inches wide Saturday morning while she waited for a wave off Morro Strand State Beach.
She was not injured.
Kelly said the signs will remain up for three days but people are not prohibited from going into the water and the beaches remain open.
“We’re not trying to stop people from going surfing. We just want people to be aware and be observant,” Kelly said. “The sharks are there whether we post something or not.”
The Harbor Patrol has confirmed about six shark sightings in the last 30 days, she said, and received a handful of reports they’ve not been able to confirm.
One of those unconfirmed reports came from a surfer who said his board was “bumped” by a large animal Sunday.
Kelly said the department will meet tomorrow with a Central Coast-based shark research specialist who will guide them on how to best interpret the often-mixed data they receive following shark sightings.
Anyone who spots what they think may be a shark is asked to report the sighting to the Harbor Patrol at 772-6254.