Officials in Huntington Beach closed local waters to swimmers and surfers on Friday morning, after a shark bumped into a surfer, displaying what they described as “aggressive behavior.”
The incident took place as a surfer waited for a wave roughly 30 yards offshore, according to ABC News. A great white shark, believed to be between five- and eight-feet-long, bumped into the bottom of his surfboard before he was able to swim back to shore and alert lifeguards.
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Lt. Claude Panis with Huntington Beach Fire Department Marine Safety observed that the shark’s behavior caused authorities to close the surrounding stretch of beach to swimmers.
“A bump like that is classified as an aggressive behavior by a shark. Based on that, we had to close the water in the area one mile each way,” he said.
The closure represents the first time that a section of Huntington Beach has been shuttered due to shark activity, according to the L.A. Times. Coast Guard helicopters were circling the area in an attempt to spot the white shark, and waters from Beach Boulevard to the Huntington Beach Pier and Huntington State Beach remained closed until 8 a.m. Sunday. Beachgoers were still able to utilize the sand, however.
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Earlier this year, a group of juvenile white sharks made headlines when they were spotted swimming and feeding just 50 feet from the shore near Huntington Beach. As the Inquisitr previously reported, since the great whites are under eight-feet-long, they pose little risk to swimmers and surfers. At that stage of their development, the sharks feed primarily upon stingrays and fish. The white sharks are commonly found in the region during this time of the year as they migrate south into the warmer waters off Baja, yet their extreme proximity to shore was considered somewhat unusual.
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The sighting comes just a day after a new study was released, showing that the risk of encountering a white shark off the California coastline has plummeted significantly in recent years. Allowing for a recovering population of great whites and a dramatically expanding number of humans in California, researchers were able to determine that beachgoers have a 91 percent lower risk of being attacked by a great white shark.
[Photo by Ryan Pierse / Getty Images]