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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I saw an approximately fifteen foot long Great White Shark attack a woman on her kayak yesterday morning in West Cove, Catalina Island, at about nine am. The woman is fine physically and was not actually bitten, but I'm sure she's going to have her share of nightmares for some time to come. I fished Catalina Island Friday and Saturday with several friends this weekend. We started fishing the Vee's well before dawn on Saturday and then left headed to West Cove around 8:30 to follow up on some info I had received. We arrived at West Cove around nine and tucked in about thirty yards off the beach right at the dirty water line. As we pulled in I had noticed a woman in a blue kayak paddling west to east about a hundred yards off the beach. (There were four other boats in the cove besides us. One of the boats was a Mickelson 50 out of Huntington Harbor. The woman on the kayak was from that boat and was paddling around while her family was on the big boat fishing for seabass.) Anyway, we anchored up and I was in the process of pinning my first squid on the hook when I heard a scream from the direction of the kayak. I looked over and saw the kayak flipping over and the woman going in the water. She was about a hundred yards away. I saw a big splash next to the boat and then saw what I initially thought was an arm waving back and forth and splashing. The "arm" was dark so I thought I was looking at a person in a wetsuit waving his arm back and forth. My brain didn't correctly process what I was seeing and for the first second or two I thought maybe somebody had played a trick on the lady by pushing her off the kayak and was screwing around and splashing her. I could also see a large dark shape maybe a foot out of the water that I thought could have been a couple of people in dark wetsuits but obscured by the splashing from the "arm". After about two seconds I realized the "arm" was actually part of a huge shark tail oriented vertically in the water and it was thrashing back and forth right at the surface. The large dark shape was actually part of the shark sticking out of the water. The portion of the tail I could see looked like it was three feet long. The shark was pushing on the kayak and the woman was on the far side of the kayak holding on and screaming. Apparently, when she was knocked out of the kayak at some point she ended up with the kayak between her and the shark. I'm sure that's what saved her life. Anyway, the shark was pushing on the up-side down kayak to get at her and the whole while she is shrieking like nothing I've ever heard. We were anchored so there was nothing we could do in time to be of any use, but there were two other small boats drift fishing. We were closer and I don't know if they couldn't see what was happening as well, or what. We started screaming at them to go help her and that there was a shark and they both went at her at full throttle. By this time the shark had sunk out and the woman had begun swimming away from the kayak toward the big Mikelson. Watching her swimming was about the sickest thing I have ever seen. It was a feeling of complete helplessness. I was positive that big shark was going to come up and hit her at any second. The vessel "Topless" (looked sort of like an open 20 foot Skipjack, but I don't think that's what it was), got to her first and pulled her out of the water. Amazingly, she was unscratched. The Topless took her back to her boat and the other small boat (a blue center console) towed her kayak back for her. The woman's family (including her grade-school aged kids) were all on the Mikelson watching helplessly as this whole thing went down. (They were anchored as well.) Absolutely the most amazing and scary thing I've ever seen on the water, or anywhere else for that matter. When the two guys on Topless pulled her out of the water I was sure I was going to see a lot of blood coming off of her. She was still screaming for several seconds after being pulled from the water, but I was shocked to see her remain standing. I put the glasses on her and was even more shocked that I couldn't see any blood on her. I used to be an EMT and as I was watching them begin to pull her out I was sure that I was going to be looking for tourniquet materials in the very near future. I still can not believe that she was untouched in that attack. We motored over and talked to them after a little while to make sure that she was o.k. She was in kind of a giddy, euphoric "I can't believe I'm alive." frame of mind. She said that she felt the bump from underneath and that it rolled her into the water. She said at one point (I guess toward the end of the attack) the shark went under the kayak and she pulled her feet up and then was kicking at it. She was incredulous as she was telling us that when kicking at it there was actually a point where she had both of her feet on its back and she was half standing on it for a split second as it went under her. She said as she was swimming for the boat all she could think about was the fact that her family was going to watch her get killed by a shark. I never saw enough of the shark to give a reliable estimate of length, but I can certainly say it was a very big shark. The woman said it was significantly longer than her kayak and from what I saw of its tail and flank, I would have to agree. The kayak was a two-person, sit on top, type and looked to be about twelve feet long. My best estimate of the shark is that it was at least fifteen feet and probably a bit longer. We all congratulated her on her having survived about as close a call as you can possibly have. I also told her to go buy a lottery ticket. Bill P.S.: It was blazing hot at Catalina on Saturday. Despite that, nobody was the least bit tempted to go into the water until we were well away from West Cove. :) We all finally did swim once we got around to a spot just west of Empire. The guys on the Topless happened to go by and turned around to talk about what we had all seen. They agreed it was hot, but had apparently decided they wouldn't be swimming at Cat any time soon. They also made it clear that if they needed to pull me out of the water they were going to use a gaff. :) One more thing. Literally, as the first screams started, my friend's new wife was changing into a bathing suit for the purpose of going for a swim.

This post edited by WJW 06/23/2008
 

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Well Bill - that must have made for a helluva story on the porch at the TC opening day festivities?? What an incredibly intense experience. You must be so grateful that you didn't have to witness a tragedy. I just can't imagine that family's pain if the unthinkable had occurred. I'm sure this thread will prompt the usual emotional debate about GWS prevalence etc. They are there and they are something to think about in my honest opinion. It won't stop me from going in the water but I'll continue to pick my spots.

When I was in the cove a few weeks ago, there was a skiff full of spear fisherman working it hard...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah it made for quite a story on the porch Rob. Sorry you weren't able to make it.

I'm with you on the swimming thing. I didn't swim in West Cove on Saturday, but I'm sure I will at some time in the future. Sharks are out there. It's part of the deal. The odds against being bitten are ridiculously small so, for the minimal amount of time I'm in the water, I'm not going to worry about it.

Bill
 

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That is just unreal, Bill. I hope I never see anything like that myself. Excellent recap of the event, and I am glad it turned out the way it did.

Heymon

PS You were sure ballsy to go swimming after that, but lightning probably wouldn't strike twice, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It wasn't ballsy. We were the better part of ten miles from West Cove before we got wet. But I will admit that, despite what you know on an intellectual level, it was a bit freaky sitting there treading water. But the truth is, it was so frigging hot, worrying about sharks became secondary. We were all treading water at the stern with Vodka's and Cranberry juice cocktails lined up on the swim step. And then, after spending thirty minutes in the water cooling down, we got into an absolutely epic Calico bite.:tu: Bill

This post edited by WJW 06/23/2008
 

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Wow, what a story. That has "nightmare" written all over it, and that's just for the guys who watched helplessly. I can't imagine what the poor woman must have dreamt that night.
They say there's nothing like seeing the explosion of a topwater bite, but I'll pass on that one.
 

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Lucky lady!!

I do little scuba diving. I am always a bit anxious entering the exiting the water. When on the bottom; I feel safe and at home.

Has anyone actually seen the GW's feeding inshore at Catalina? Also how close was this GW to the kelp line?

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'd say the lady was fifty yards from the nearest kelp line. Maybe a bit less. She was probably a hundred yards off the beach when measured from the middle of the cove, but the kelp line follows the coast and because the coast/kelp line curves out at the western end of West cove, she was probably around fifty yards from that edge of the kelp. Bill

This post edited by WJW 06/22/2008
 

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WOW !!! What a report Bill. Did a channel 16 warning go out ?
If so, it must have freeked out others at the Island.
Next time start chumming for a pic
:tu:
What a way to start your summer :tu:




DR
 

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Amazing.... What an adventure for everyone involved and thank God it had a happy, (even though un-nerving) ending....

It's times like that, where one would want to have their bolt cutters handy, as well as the 12 guage.....

Cheers, Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
We did not broadcast a Channel 16 warning.

For the first forty-five minutes after the incident we were all so freaked out and discussing what we had just witnessed that nobody thought to call out a warning. We were barely even fishing at that point. Every boat in the cove (except Limitless) had witnessed the events anyway so there was no danger of anyone going swimming while we were still there.

We tried calling Limitless to discuss the event, but they never heard us. That boat was chartered by fellow TC members and we were surprised to find out later that they never had any idea what had gone on because they were two hundred yards further east and their bow was pointing at the incident while everyone was fishing on the stern. I don't know how they didn't hear the screaming, but they must have had a stereo on or something. Anyway, I'm glad no one decided to go for a swim in the cove. 8*

Finally, as we were leaving the cove it occurred to us that "somebody official" should be informed, so we called Two Harbors Harbor Patrol about an hour after the incident and gave them the details. We told them a woman had been attacked and knocked off her kayak by a White Shark, and that she was not injured, but that it had been an extremely close call. They asked when and where it had occurred, we told them, and they thanked us for the info. I have no idea if they broadcast any kind of "notice to mariners" or anything. In hindsight, I suppose we probably should have put something out on Channel 16. I hope the Harbor Patrol did broadcast a warning. We all know sharks are out there, but it'd be nice to know if a great white had attacked someone a hour earlier if you were planning to take a swim in West Cove Saturday.

We also saw the Catalina Divers boat, Scuba Cat, dropping divers on the front side relatively close to the West End, so we called them and let them know the details as well.

Bill
 

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Neill said:
Ghostboy said:
Mojomizer said:
I certainly hope that the man in the grey suit puts the seal population in check. Be careful swimming out there.

Mark
I couldn't agree with you more! Maybe it's time for the DFG to sell kill-off licenses - Ghostboy!
Which species......?


Neill
California Sea Lions!
 

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