Extremely rare attack raises fears

By Laura Petersen

Around 7 a.m. last Friday morning Solana Beach veterinarian David Martin was swimming about 150 yards offshore in water 20 to 30 feet deep when he was attacked by what was apparently a great white shark. Other swimmers pulled Martin out of the water. He was taken to the Fletcher Cove lifeguard station for medical attention but was pronounced dead at 7:49 a.m. The news of the attack raised fears around the area despite being the only confirmed death from shark attack in this area over a period of nearly 50 years.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography shark expert Richard Rosenblatt said the shark was probably between 12 and 17 feet long.

Warning signs went up on beaches from Torrey Pines State Beach to South Carlsbad. No San Diego beaches were closed, including La Jolla Shores. San Diego Lifeguard Lieutenant Nick Lerma said, “Proximity is not of an immediate issue to La Jolla.”

While shark attacks to humans are very rare in the waters off Southern California, sharks do hunt in the area. “Children’s pool seals have shown signs of sharks (bite marks),” Lerma said. Experts said that the shark who attacked Martin likely confused him for one of the sea creatures common to the shark diet.

After spending more than a decade running the Rancho Solana Pet Hospital, Martin merged practices with 11 other veterinarians to form All Creatures Animal Hospital in Del Mar. He served as a mentor and veterinarian there until he retired in 1997. “He created a great life for all of us,” his 26-year-old son Kevin Martin (one of five Martin children) said. “There’s been nothing but happiness and good times here.”