On the heels of a vicious shark attack on a swimmer, San Clemente strictly enforced the closures of beach waters after several shark sightings along the popular Southern California coastline while other areas remained more lax.
On Saturday, a 36-year-old woman was bitten on the right leg while she swam as her boyfriend surfed at a popular surfing locale in San Onofre State Beach in North County, San Diego.
Since then, shark sightings have become more plentiful with an invasion of sorts along the south Orange County coast.
“It’s nothing we’ve seen before,” San Clemente lifeguard chief Bill Humphreys told the Orange County Register.
According to the Register, nine sharks measuring 8 to 10 feet were spotted around Poche Beach in Dana Point (about 14 miles north of San Onofre), an 11-foot shark swam under the San Clemente Pier, and at San Onofre State Park, a shark forced two surfers from the water at Upper Trestles and a shark was spotted acting aggressively at Lower Trestles.
Consequently, San Clemente closed beach waters from Trail 6 at San Onofre through San Clemente’s northern border, and San Onofre waters were to be closed until Wednesday morning, according to the San Clemente Times.
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San Clemente was going to reopen its beaches until an Orange County Fire Authority helicopter spotted nine great white sharks just outside the surf line at Capistrano Beach on Monday night.
“There’s been reports of aggressive sharks, a large number of sharks and also the attack,” San Clemente lifeguard chief Bill Humphreys told the Register.
But while lifeguards actively called people out of the water in San Clemente, state beaches don’t have the manpower to enforce the closures, so some surfers refuse to follow them.
“The seriousness has escalated,” Humphreys told the Register. “And we do have the manpower to enforce. It’s a real slippery slope if you allow people to go in the water when it’s closed. When you allow two people, it turns to 20 and 40. We have kids, we have families, we have a variety of people to look out for.
“Say that person gets hurt, with any kind of injury, now the lifeguards have to respond in this water that we’ve deemed potentially dangerous.”
And the recent shark attack proves it can be dangerous. The victim, Leeane Ericson, remained in critical condition Tuesday, the Register reported.
Meanwhile, San Clemente reopened its beaches Tuesday afternoon after patrols reported no current shark sightings, according to the San Clemente Times.