Annoyed Great White Shark Bites Man Off Manhattan Beach Pier on California Coast
Apparently an extremely annoyed Great White shark bit a California swimmer off Manhattan Beach Pier on Saturday, terrifying all the swimmers in the land and making Jaws significantly scarier for everybody else. But it turns out that the shark probably bit the swimmer by accident after being hooked by a fisherman and thrashing around angrily for 45 minutes, according to The Los Angeles Times.
A lifeguard at the beach told the paper the shark probably didn't mean to bite the man, who will likely be fine. The lifeguard, Capt. Tracy Lizotte, actually defended the shark. Imagine!
He was trying to get off the line. He was agitated and was probably biting everything in his way and then the swimmer swam right into the shark's line.
The shark was reportedly 7-10 feet long, according to people on the scene. If the shark was 7 feet, that's actually on the smaller side for Great Whites, which get their name because of how terrifyingly large they are.
The swimmer, which the LA Times reported as 35-40 years of age, was apparently bit near his ribcage. CBS reports that he was originally reported to be in critical condition, but is now stable. There were conflicting reports about whether the shark was released by the fisherman before or after the attack occurred, but Lizotte sounds like she believes the shark was snared by the line when the swimmer was bitten.
Which should give swimmers a little piece of mind. Despite what you might think after watching too many Shark Weeks, Great White Sharks don't attack all that often. In the 20th century altogether, only 108 people were bitten by any sharks, just eight fatally, on the Pacific coast, according to National Geographic (though it bears noting that it's more populated now than it was then). Great Whites don't normally hunt people, but they do like to taste things, according to R. Aidan Martin, a shark researcher who talked to NatGeo about the phenomenon.
I spent five years in South Africa and observed over 1,000 predatory attacks on sea lions by great whites. The sharks would rocket to the surface and pulverize their prey with incredible force.
But when they see people? Well, it's a little more boring — the sharks, according to Martin, come upon people with "leisurely or undramatic behavior."
The area off the pier where the swimmer was bitten on Saturday is apparently a shark hangout spot, according to Lizotte, the lifeguard.
That's where they live. It's their home. This was an accident.
Two good lessons to take from this: Swimmers, try not to hang around all the cool spots where Great White sharks have their chill sessions, if you can avoid it. And fishermen, try to release your line if a fish that looks and feels and sounds like a Great White shark appears to be attached to the other end of it.