Sharks Swim Just Feet From Surfers Off Manhattan Beach (VIDEO)
It's not exactly beach season in Southern California.
But even with small surf to feast on, surfers are enjoying glassy waves on recent sunny mornings. And ocean temps are relatively warm for this time of year.
The folks in the water off El Porto in Manhattan Beach have company:
A local paddle boarder, Jay Dohner, grabbed his GoPro camera after seeing the creatures swimming off El Porto.
And he says he spotted at least three different sharks, one of them estimated to be 10 feet long, during three separate sightings yesterday.
Dohner is calling them great whites.
"I captured some shark footage of my own today," he stated. "A bit more than I bargained for."
Capt. Kyle Daniels of the L.A. County Lifeguard Division confirms that it is believed sharks spotted in recent months off Manhattan Beach are great whites. He says there have been sightings since July, sometimes at a rate of two per day.
That compares to about two sightings per year before that, he said.
They've become so common, the captain said, that "we've grown a little callous to their presence."
There have been no attacks or even attempts to charge at swimmers or surfers, Daniels said. But in the summer, when sharks were seen close to children, lifeguards got on jet skis and scared off the marine life.
Lifeguards are working with academics to figure out why the sharks are hanging out at local beaches, and they even plan a conference on the topic in January, Daniels said.
Meanwhile he advised folks not to get close to the creatures. And he said reports that some observers are actually trying to ride the sharks would be investigated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Because great whites are under consideration for protected status, people convicted of harassing them could face thousands of dollars in fines and even jail time, Daniels said.
"There have been incidents of people trying to aggressively interact with sharks," he told us. "Keep a safe distance. Even trying to videotape them with a GoPro camera is not advised. They're still wild creatures."
View Larger Map
Experts believe the sharks might head south to Mexico once a good west swell brings in fresh, cold water, the captain said. The temperature in the surf today was a relatively warm 63.
During his paddle out Sunday, Dohner warned a pair of surfers in the lineup that sharks were nearby. One responded that he was told it was a dolphin sharing the water.
"You wanna believe that," Dohner is heard saying. "Great white. I'm totally serious -- there's three of them around here."
The surfers scattered.