Eric Martin was about to paddle out for a morning surf in Manhattan Beach on Wednesday when a large set rolled in, and in the face of one of the waves was a 7-foot great white shark (not pictured).
"The water was only shoulder deep and its head was down like it was riding the wave," said Martin, co-director of the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium, at the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier. "At first all I saw was its head and snout, and it was like time stood still."
Martin knew it was a shark but looked around for dolphins or dolphin blows for several minutes. There were no dolphins in the area. (Martin did not have a camera with him, and the white shark photo accompanying this post is generic.)
Then Martin, who teaches aquarium visitors that juvenile white sharks feed on fish and small sharks and not people, paddled out and caught some waves.
"But I was consistently looking around and below me," he said.
Southern California coastal waters are a nursery grounds for juvenile white sharks--those measuring to about 10 feet--and sightings are sure to increase now that summer-like weather is here and more people are going to the beach.
Piers are great vantage points and Martin said there have been five "reliable" sightings of white sharks during the past three weeks at Manhattan Beach Pier.
All of the sightings involved a shark measuring about seven feet.
Martin has tried to photograph the shark, which at times has been very close to the pier and nearby surfers, but it has remained too far beneath the surface.
The shark he spotted Wednesday, at about 8 a.m., was about 70 yards north of the pier.
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