San Francisco Bay tourists reported seeing a great white shark devouring what appeared to be sea lion parts on Saturday, October 10, 2015. The sighting was caught on video by a tourist on a boarding dock near the blood-patched water where the predator was feasting.
Newsweek reported that research associate David McGuire at the California Academy of sciences assessed the shark sighting shown on the video. McGuire, also director of the San Francisco-based shark conservation group, released the following statement on his Bay findings.
“This is the first recorded predation event I know in the San Francisco Bay. It definitely looks like a white shark, about 8 to 10 feet, from the phone video sent to us. The tourists were pretty excited.”
According to News, the video, posted on YouTube by Meredith Coppolo Shindler, focuses on a bloody red pool in the water just a few feet away from onlookers standing dockside along San Francisco Bay. The shark can be seen surfacing among chunks of the torn mammal’s flesh bobbing in the water.
Sean Van Sommeran, the executive director and founder of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation in Santa Cruz, remarked on shark sightings in San Francisco Bay, normally confined to the warmer waters of Southern California and Baja. Attributing the movement to the El Niño effect warming the ocean, he made the following statement.
“This year we not only saw pups, but we saw dozens of them. It’s the furthest north white shark pups have ever been documented. It’s not so much the abundance of sharks. It’s that the center of gravity has shifted somewhat north. Some of the fishing camps in Baja, the small fishing villages in the Sea of Cortés, that used to have white sharks are now empty.”
The shark sighting follows whale sightings in the Columbia River at the border between Washington and Oregon for the same reason, in September. Bruce Mate, Director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center, cited El Niño as the cause of changing ocean conditions that are driving whales to forage in the river, most likely for anchovies, seeking out resources where they can find them.
News maintains that while harmless shark species are common in San Francisco Bay, it’s unusual to spot the large, oceanic species such as the great white. Though the large, oceanic Great White Sharks have been spotted from the San Francisco shore, they usually don’t linger or venture far inside. According to Environmental Volunteers, the sharks that habituate the Bay are usually docile, smaller species. One is the North Pacific Spiny Dogfish, slim brown sharks that reach a maximum length of 4 feet and are encountered inside the San Francisco Bay mostly in the winter months.
While known to swallow objects they cannot digest, great white sharks are carnivorous, preferring fish, rays, other sharks, along with sea lions, seals, dolphins, whales, turtles and birds, and the like. Young sharks prey on fish until at around nine feet in length when their jaws grow strong enough for larger prey, and at around 13 feet when they can handle marine mammals.
The great white shark has no natural predator other than the killer whale. Known to hunt a wide assortment of marine animals apart from birds and fish, it tops the rankings of finned carnivores for recorded attacks on humans.
According to SFGate, in the documented shark attacks on humans for the last 60 years, only 11 people have been killed by sharks off the California coast, although there are reports of unproven cases.
May 1958 had the only reported fatal human-shark encounter in the San Francisco Bay, involving Albert Kogler Jr., 18, who was killed off Baker Beach by a shark in some 15 feet of water.
[Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images]