A 15-year-old girl was fortunate to have escaped injury Sunday at Santa Catalina Island, when a shark decided to see if her paddleboard was food.
The city of Avalon must also be feeling fortunate because had the girl been injured -- or worse -- it would have put a major damper on the beginning of the busy tourism season, which gets underway later this month.
The shark reportedly bit the paddleboard more than once about 200 yards offshore, beyond a remote stretch of coast a mile from Avalon.
The size or type of shark is not known, but great whites have been known to mistake surfboards as prey, and are ambush hunters that strike marine mammals from below.
Shark attacks at Catalina are extremely rare but a Los Angeles County Fire Department statement assured prospective visitors that lifeguards aboard rescue boats will be on the lookout for sharks.
It could be said that this incident marks the beginning of the shark-sighting season off Southern California.
Juvenile white sharks, which prey mostly on small fish until they become large enough to feed on marine mammals, utilize coastal and island waters. And more are bound to be seen or encountered as more people visit beaches and recreate in the ocean.
Fortunately for thousands of surfers and swimmers who play in the ocean each spring and summer, most sharks are able to discern between people and prey.