Great White Shark Attacks Seal In San Francisco Bay: New Footage Emerges

Stunned tourists watched as a great white shark attacked and devoured a seal in San Francisco Bay recently, and now new footage of the incident has come to light.

The attack took place near Alcatraz island, home to the remnants of a notorious federal penitentiary, and is thought to be the first incident of its kind to occur in San Francisco Bay, as Discovery News points out. Video of the great white shark attack went viral earlier this week, largely thanks to the narration of a young onlooker who described the shark as “Jaws,” and the attack as “the best thing I have ever seen in my life!”

New footage of the attack has now surfaced, filmed by a surveillance camera belonging to Alcatraz Cruises, according to KTVU. The clip shows the great white shark bursting from the surface of the sea, leaping out of the water with the seal in its mouth. The great white shark’s entire body exits the water during the attack, and by the time gravity brings it splashing back into the sea, the water has turned bright red as blood begins to pool over the surface of the bay.

Researchers have confirmed that the shark attack was highly significant, due largely to its location. David McGuire serves as Director of the San Francisco-based shark conservation group Shark Stewards, and he confirmed that the video showed a great white shark, between eight to ten-feet-long. McGuire further stated that the attack is the first predation event by a white shark that he is aware of in San Francisco Bay. He asserted that either a California sea lion or a harbor seal was the unfortunate prey animal caught by the shark during the attack.

While the tourists who witnessed the shark attack were understandably excited, some locals have begun to question whether or not it is safe for people to swim in San Francisco Bay. They point out how close the shark was to shore when it attacked the unfortunate seal. According to Shark Stewards, however, great white sharks have been observed in San Francisco Bay several times in the past.

In 2009, a study conducted by the Stanford Tagging of Pacific Pelagics recorded the paths of a number of tagged great white sharks. They documented several white sharks entering and exiting the bay during the course of their work. Over a period of two years, five different white sharks were recorded within the Bay, one of which returned four times.

Despite heightened fears regarding the possibility of an attack, McGuire says that the risk of such an incident remains extremely low. He points out that more than 80 swimmers undertook a race from Alcatraz Island last week, and that another such event is scheduled for the coming weeks.

Only one white shark fatality has ever been documented in San Francisco, and that incident took place on May 7, 1959. On that day, 18-year-old Albert Kogler Jr. was struck by a white shark in less than 15 feet of water near Baker Beach. That attack happened roughly a mile to the west of the Golden Gate Bridge, and as McGuire points out, there is no record of a great white shark attacking a human inside San Francisco Bay.

[Photo by Hein waschefort — Own Work via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped, Resized, and Rotated | CC BY-SA 3.0]