Passengers on whale-watching cruises off Dana Point on Tuesday afternoon did not get to see the blue whales they were searching for, but enjoyed a rare sighting of a great white shark.
Capt. Chris Pica, aboard the Dana Pride out of Dana Wharf Whale Watching, spotted the shark off the vessel's bow, 1.8 miles due south of Dana Point harbor and about 1 mile from shore.
The vessel was on its noon excursion. Pica, a veteran skipper who said he was 100% certain it was a white shark, estimated the predator to measure 10 feet, making it a large juvenile.
Juvenile white sharks feed off Southern California, mostly on fish, rays and skates. However, once they reach 10-12 feet they also start targeting seals and sea lions.
"It swam several times around our boat and this shark was aggressive--he was hungry," Pica said. "He kept making these sharp turns and quick cuts, as though he was looking for something to eat."
Not far in the distance was a green buoy manned by several sea lions, which may or may not have been aware of the shark's presence.
Pica radioed captains aboard Capt. Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari and the Ocean Institute, and their passengers were able to see the shark also.
--Image of the white shark is courtesy of Dana Wharf Whale Watching