Thursday, November 10, 2005


Shark Estimated At 18 Feet In California Attack

A shark that attacked a California surfer off the Sonoma County coast three weeks ago has been estimated by a shark expert to be an 18 foot great white, weighing in the neighborhood of two tons. If one were to place an automotive comparison on the shark it would be the equivalent of a Chevy Suburban. Ralph Collier, a shark expert with the Shark Research Committe estimated the shark’s size based on the bite marks on Megan Halavais, 20, who nearly lost her leg in the attack, but is now recovering nicely outside of hospital.

"It is not unusual for us to see an animal this large cruising near the beach, looking for prey. Surfers would look but not see. They were more interested in seeing the set of waves. Now if they see a shadow moving, they will stop and look at it. You have a higher sensitivity."

Collier attributes the increase of shark attacks largely to the growing number of people playing in California waters and to an increase in the overall shark population since great whites were placed on the protected list 11 years ago. There have been four shark attacks on surfers in California waters this year, two of which occurred in the last three weeks. Collier contends that most attacks are “exploratory” in nature, a chance for “the man in the gray suit” to experiment with non-traditional prey. He says that if a shark were confident that surfers were a solid snack, they would probably be killed instantly on first strike.

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