Surfers and swimmers beware.
Shark sightings occurred Monday in Cayucos offshore near Studio Drive and Tuesday at Morro Strand State Beach.
On both days, witnesses described a 10- to 12-foot shark, believed to be a great white, swimming near surfers.
Monday’s sighting happened about 2 p.m., while the spotting Tuesday was at 9:07 a.m.
I hollered at them to get out of the water. At first they thought I was joking, but then they realized I was serious, and they got out.
Brad Beekman, paraglider
State Parks officials say they’ve posted warning signs advising the public to enter the water at their own risk. The signs will stay up for 72 hours from the time of the sightings.
“I was paragliding above a group of surfers on Fourth of July and a bunch of people were in the water,” said Brad Beekman, a 21-year-old Cal Poly student who lives in San Luis Obispo. “I saw the shark near a group of three surfers in particular, about 20 feet away. I hollered at them to get out of the water. At first they thought I was joking, but then they realized I was serious, and they got out.”
Beekman took photos of the shark on his phone and later showed them to the surfers onshore. He said the father and two kids “were shocked” when they saw the size of the dark fish.
“The shark was less than 20 feet (away) and heading straight at them,” Beekman said. “My shadow kind of spooked him, and he turned around and went into deeper water.”
Beekman believes the shark was pursuing a group of sardines that he saw in the water, making darts at the “bait ball,” and probably became curious about the surfers.
We think it could be the same shark based on its description.
Rob Colligan, State Parks supervising peace officer
On Tuesday, two surfers reported a shark similar in length about 6 feet away in the water, directly offshore from the kiosk at Morro Strand State Beach. The surfers said the shark circled them a couple of times and then swam off.
“We think it could be the same shark based on its description,” said Rob Colligan, a State Parks supervising peace officer. “Both times, it was described as having a gray back and white belly, which is consistent with a great white.”
Colligan said he has learned from a shark expert based in Monterey Bay that the El Niño year has produced warm water conditions, which have contributed to the increased presence of sharks.
“He said this is a trend that sharks will be coming around this area and sightings will be on the rise,” Colligan said. “He didn’t say necessarily there would be attacks, just that we’d see more of them.”