shark infested waters

i keep catching references to the general sharkiness of the San Fransico Bay area. is it that bad? er, good? (i dig predators)

is there any known attacks on kayakers by any large toothy animals, while we’re at it?

i was sent a movie clip of an orca flopping on a Japanese longboater about a year ago, and it looked shockingly real, yet, uh, fishy, and i later found out it was the usual doctored BS. most of you probably saw it as well, these things make the rounds fast in the outdoor community…

Shark articles
Go to and check out the articles section. This is Bay area Sea Kayak club site.

Fun reading.

a few kayaks had a shark give 'em a bite
Check out the B.A.S.K web site ( Bay Area Sea Kayakers), there was a couple of reports about White Pointers grabbing and shaking the bejesus out of a couple of kayaks, though no one was injured. There was an east coast incident several years ago, a Mako hit a kayak, knocked the boat about 30 degrees off course and left a few teeth in the hull from what I recall. I say not to worry and enjoy the bay.

So Far, So Good…
In 15 years I haven’t seen any Great White Sharks…yet

I did see a big Blue off the Farralon Islands, but that is 28 miles out. I was on the deck of a 50’ fishing boat, so no sweat.

Great White Sharks are actually pretty rare. They are an endangered species, but an average adult is about 15’ and weighs 3,000# so when they do attack is is pretty bad.

I lived in Florida before I lived here and saw them all the time. I had a couple close encounters with Bull Sharks. Florida has about three times as many attacks as California, but many of them are “minor” I saw a surfer with a mangled foot at New Synra Beach. Didn’t look very “minor” to me.

BASK stories, pretty wild!
i only wish there were photos of the boats on the site or links to them. odd that there isn’t.

Double surfski attack in Australia
In 1997 a double surfski was bitten in half by a great white at Cottesloe in Western Australia. The paddlers were Barney Hanrahan and Brian Sierakowski and you should be able to find more details on the net.

The following link…
will give you an accounting of all the known incidents in 2005, 2004 and so on. Most of the reported incidents are very close sightings, but also quite a few chomps. Ouch.

Ironically, there is a pair of reports that envelope the BCU symposium at Doran and Salmon Beach, Bodega Bay. Both of them were surfers, who, usually get the worst of the sharks attention.

Augustus Dogmatycus


great link thanks Dogma

Bodega Bay AKA Great White Shark Park
If you a historical search, you will see a long history of attacks in the immediate area of Bodega Bay. Especially Salmon Creek.

And the BCU is held in Fall, which is prime time for GWS attacks.

anyone have the site for hammerhead?
it’s a small sitontop with a hammerhead shaped bow, so that it doesn’t Pearl in the surf.

For what it’s worth to you…

– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 8:03 PM EST –

I am a diver who dives with sharks pretty regularly. In fact, next week I'll be diving in a place where there is nearly no visibility in the water hunting fossils, and it's common to feel a bump on the arm, leg, etc..every once in awhile. Sometimes it might be a dolphin, sometimes a shark, big one, small one,.....?????

I've come to know shark behavior not only from some of the better scientists who study them, but from my own experience with them as well. Anything can happen out there ofcourse, but if you are absolutely petrified of the thought, and you want to decrease your chances of getting bitten by one you have to understand a sharks behavior.

I don't know where you paddle, but Great Whites, Tigers, and other sharks have been getting the blame for Bull Shark attacks for longer than most of us have been alive. A Bull Shark has many different names throughout the world, and it spends most of it's time hunting in shallow murky waters, thus mistakingly identifing its prey more often than others do. The Tiger Shark is also a very indiscriminatory eater. It will investigate, and has been known to eat most anything if it's hungry. Even so, the human is not apart of what it prefers. You should see some of the things that have been found in their stomachs.

The biggest misconception out there is that sharks are "attacking" people. Although that can rarely be the case, truth is that sharks are not"attacking" humans in nearly ALL these incidents we hear about on the news, etc...If these were "attacks", the attackee would most certainly not live through it. Even the ones who do die from these rare encounters usually die from bleeding to death after the shark nibbles/sometimes bites, and then realizes it's mistake. People do love drama, and they love to make mountains out of molehills. Ofcourse they do. It makes life exciting for them to tell the story.

The real truth of the matter is that sharks do not have arms ofcourse, so they use their mouth as we would use our hands to "feel" or check things out. MOST all of the time with these human encounters it's simply investigation, or ofcourse mistaken identity.

As a diver you have to worry about many things. I will be diving in a few days where there are many Bull Sharks, and even Hammerheads. It is also prime "mistaken identity" territory because it is shallow murky water. The only thing I really have going for me is the sound of my bubbles. I also decrease the odds by not wearing bright colors, or anything flashy. These things can trigger instinctive, or excited reactions that a shark normally would not make. But even in this higher risk environment it's extremely rare to ever see an attack, as divers have been doing what I do for many years with little to no incident. There is however one Hammerhead known as "Hitler" in the area that is well-known to be a "dangerous killer" as he harasses the fisherman all the time. They fisherman are always going one about how dangerous he is. They love making up their stories. Keep in mind that this is the same way Moby Dick got demonized. Hint "fishermen". As in running food through the water for catching things. (wink) Funny that he never bothers us under the water though. And ofcourse common sense dictates that I'd never spearfish in that area. This shark is used to free meals, and I have no intention of participating in that activity underwater first hand because of this. Neither do I approve of it anywhere else as it's well-known to be done in the Bahamas by divers. I don't dislike it so much because it's dangerous, but that I don't like to see Sharks associating food with humans that are in the water. This can never be a good thing in the long run for either species. So please never assume that all divers approve of such things as handfeeding Sharks. It's no different than feeding bears IMO.

Here's something I see as interesting to remember when it comes to sharks. It often seems like Jetliners, and other aircraft crash ALL THE TIME. When in reality it's extremely rare. Airline travel just happens to be among the safest ways to travel in the world. So why are people so scared of it? Because we hear about almost EVERY single incident. Just like shark "attacks". No matter where it happens in the world, it's very rare that the whole world doesn't report, and hear it. We can be glad that we don't hear about every car accident in the world. Otherwise people might never want to go to work Might not be a bad thing come to think of it.

All this being said, I can guarantee you that you are in much less danger on your way to whereever it is that you paddle, than you are while paddling. Statistics alone have more than proven that. Yes, it can happen, but a meteor could also fall out of the sky and hit you while you're paddling as well. If you were dripping bait blood in the water, or making an extaordinary effort to look like a Shark's natural prey like a seal, or sealion etc.. I would say you might be severely increasing your odds of attack, but the only thing you have to fear is your own mind with this issue. People simply fear what they don't understand. And with good reason. That's natural human instinct. That's what kept us from flying off mountains with parachutes, and hanggliders for years.

If it really bothers you, and you want to feel safer, I would suggest paddling in clearer waters where you can not be mistaken by a shark, and away from areas that have high shark populations. Stay away from commercial fishing vessels that are in use or throwing dead fish overboard, and locations where these boats dock as well. These type places are where sharks learn to come and get a handout. There are also places that sharks just love to stay. Learn where they are. With a little education you can both rid yourself of this needless fear, and become very confident in paddling nearly any place on earth that paddlers go.

I must add that I hate what Hollywood has done to the world. Millions of sharks have suffered for people's ignorance from such movies as Jaws. Nearly all species of Sharks are harmless to people, and nearly all the ones that are being demonized like Bull Sharks, Great Whites, Tigers, etc...have very little interest in "attacking" or especially "eating" us. Sharks make mistakes, just like people do. They have MUCH more of a justifiable reason to fear us.


is it just me?
But most predators will not attack prey items of a significant size larger than it - unless of course there is in obvious advantage (health, condition of animal etc.) Therefore a blue shark of 12ft is not likely to get aggresive with a seventeen ft boat, or a nineteen ft boat. After spending five summers paddlins with many different species of whales ( and yes i know they are not sharks), but I have been frighteningly close to Orca that have been observed attacking and killing humpback whales right in the bay where I was guiding tours. This is a nerve wracking expierence as an Orca is significantly larger than a sea kayaker. I actually find the thought of paddling with these Orca a little more stressful than I would a shark of smaller sizes. Now a great white that is reputed to be 20ft long - would raise the hairs on my neck for sure.

Even paddling with basking sharks (although they are filter feeders) is an awesome expeirence.

The only sharks that I have paddled with were Basking sharks, and a blue shark on two seperate occasions - although the blue is a rare sight in our waters.


any Orca attacks ever on record?
i’ve never heard of it, and as mentioned previously, one tends to hear these things if they’ve ever occured anywhere over time…

Once on record…
'72 or 74 in San Diego, CA. Surfer got nipped by an Orca inside the break. The only recorded instance. Took lots of stitches to keep him from leaking, but he’s fine. Indians’ll tell ya differently, though. Their lore has a few instances per band in the PNW.

For the record, I agree lots with Splash. Sharks have been hammered by us. I refuse to buy their steaks at the fish market. Unsustainable

“fishery.” Most awesome sight I’ve seen was a few Bull sharks surfing the soup zone along a jungle river mouth. They were alight along the waves like porpoises, snappin up fish and doing what sharks do.

Augustus Dogmatycus


OK something or other?
Manta maybe? Was available 4-5 years ago but discontinued now.

Hammerhead Kayak

– Last Updated: Jan-20-06 12:00 AM EST –

They seem to be gone. Here's the link to the company that did the rotomolding:

There's a picture of the kayaks at the top of the page.

Here's another link with pics, specs, and impressions:

Killer Whales in San Diego?
Have they stopped visiting the surf breaks here? I’ve never heard of a killer whale being sited anywhere near shore here.

Sorry, it was Point Sur, Monterey…
Not SD. Don’t know why I put down SD. My source is:

Orca, The Whale Called Killer, by erich Hoyt, P. 87, Robert Hale, London, 1990.

Apparently the surfer took a hundred stitches to close up wounds. Lucky!

Pods of whales range up and down the coast with the seasonal whale migrations. These are often referred to as Transient populations that feed primarily on mammals. They are recorded all along the Pacific coastline.



Dogmaticus, quite the sight!
i’m often amazed at the wildlife experiences, sightings and encounters that people on this forum (as dedicated outdoorspeople)relate. that bull shark experience sounds incredible, once in a lifetime thing.

when i was in San Diego last week, i had dolphins swim underneath the kayak and look up at me, which is about the coolest on water wildlife experience i’ve had to date.

i’ve also had some very interesting moose encounters while canoeing and hiking. one that even chased me off of a would be landing site in the middle of the night. i was shaking for hours after!

IN The Water Encounters
I’ve had three encounters IN the water. Two while swimming, and once on a paddle board.

First was a small 4-5’ Bull Shark while snorkeling just outside the second sand bar off Panama City Beach, Florida. It turned and swam off when it saw me.

Second was while swimming offshore at Myrtle Beach SC. A Tiger Shark was being chased by guys in a power boat with rifles, and it swam under me. I heard they were taking bets on the beach…

The last, and most frightening, was being circled by a larger 5-6’ Bull Shark while paddling a board across a back Bay of Destin Florida. That one was really checking me out…