Humboldt County surfer escapes shark attack

Humboldt County surfer escapes shark attack

Published: Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 11:05 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 11:05 a.m.

A shark attack at a popular Humboldt Bay surfing spot left a surfer shaken but unhurt and underlines that it is the time of year that white sharks begin showing up in greater numbers along the North Coast.

Benjie Rose was sitting on his board 40 yards off of Samoa Beach at a spot called Power Poles on Sunday when a white shark came up under him, hitting his board and knocking him into the air, according to his account for the Shark Attack Research Committee in Van Nuys.

His board badly damaged and with a bloody nose, Rose managed to paddle into a wave and rode it onto the shore, where it broke in half and he discovered teeth marks.

Rose and other surfers alerted others who were in the water and also contacted the U.S. Coast Guard.

“This is time up north you start seeing them and it is holding true as to migratory patterns,” said Ralph Collier, founder of the committee, a clearinghouse for West Coast shark encounters.

“That is due to the salmon and steelhead run,” Collier said. “The pinnipeds, the seals, come in to feed on the salmon and the sharks come in to feed on the seals and the salmon. Stick a surfer in the middle, and it is surprising there is not more of this happening.”

A few white sharks, which can reach 20 feet in length, are usually along the coast all year, but their numbers begin increasing in September. It is not until January that surfers, body-boarders, kayakers and divers breathe a sigh of relief.

Peter Klimley of Petaluma, a marine animal behaviorist at UC Davis, said white sharks move into Northern California to feed in the fall before leaving for the center of the north Pacific in December, according to data compiled from tagging sharks.

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