If you’ve been following the shark hysteria that’s swept through Southern California of late, the details are enough to make your head spin. So far, a woman was seriously attacked late last month, a Los Angeles surfer was pulled out of the water with a gaping wound that may or may not have been a shark attack, more than a week ago 10 sharks were spotted in Long Beach and 15 in Orange County (the latter of which yielded a particularly ominous message from a whirly bird in the sky), and yesterday 25 sharks were reportedly spotted in San Clemente. And if that’s not enough, early this morning off San Clemente pier – just after beaches were reopened to the public – a local fisherman hooked a 12-foot shark, causing officials to reinstate closures.
According to the Orange County Register, multiple sources say two sharks were spotted tooling around the pier Monday morning – one around 10 feet and the other around 12 feet. Unless more shark activity is reported, the closure will last about four hours.
For now, it remains unclear if the fisherman who hooked the 12-footer this morning dropped his line with the intent to catch a shark. “I haven’t confirmed if they were fishing for sharks, but they did get it close to the pier,” Marine Safety Chief Bill Humphreys told the Register. “That leads me to believe they were fishing for sharks. They couldn’t do that with normal fishing gear,” he said. The shark was ultimately released.
Fishing for great white sharks off of municipal piers is not only illegal in California, it’s worrisome for surfers, swimmers, and lifeguards because it may aggravate them to a point where they become more dangerous. Just a few years ago a fisherman hooked a great white in Manhattan Beach that ultimately bit a surfer.
Theories abound why Southern California especially is observing what seems to be an increase in shark activity, ranging from it being part of a global trend, to climate explanations. It’s worth noting that even scientists are baffled as to why sharks seem to congregate in certain areas.