Shark experts investigate attack on swimmer near San Diego

A leading shark researcher said on Monday that experts are currently investigating a shark bite incident involving a swimmer near San Diego. They are working to identify the species of shark involved and gather any additional information that may explain this rare event. According to a spokesperson from the Del Mar lifeguard, a 46-year-old man was bitten on his torso, left arm, and hand while swimming with a group of about a dozen others in Del Mar. The incident occurred approximately 100 yards from shore on Sunday. As a result, the beach has been closed and a “shark incident” notice has been posted. Although sharks, including great whites, are frequently seen near swimmers, surfers, and paddlers in the waters off Del Mar and the Torrey Pines beach of San Diego, there have only been 20 unprovoked shark bites recorded in San Diego County over the past 98 years, according to the International Shark Attack File database. In a separate incident in May, a surfer was knocked off their board by a shark approximately 40 miles up the coast in San Clemente.
On Sunday, a team led by Chris Lowe, a marine biology professor and director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach, went to Del Mar to collect water samples in hopes of finding cells shed by the shark. These cells could then be tested for DNA to determine the species.

In addition to collecting water samples, the Shark Lab team also wants to examine the swimmer’s medical records and wetsuit to measure the bite marks. This information could provide insights into the size and approximate age of the shark responsible for the attack.

Lowe explained that Del Mar, like the Santa Cruz-Monterey area, is known as an aggregation site where sharks often gather to feed. However, it is still unclear why this specific incident occurred, as there are many sharks and people in the area on a daily basis. Lowe’s team has already tagged 225 juvenile white sharks and tracks their movements in order to better understand their behavior.
According to Lowe, shark bites are even less probable in those regions, possibly due to the familiarity of the sharks with humans, making them less likely to mistake them for their usual prey like sea lions.

Lowe suggests that it is possible for a new shark to enter the area, unfamiliar with human presence, leading to a mistaken encounter.