Lifeguards alerting beachgoers after sharks seen off La Jolla Shores

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

There were two separate shark sightings in the La Jolla Shores area Sunday that lifeguards suspect may have been great white sharks.

As a consequence, lifeguard staff was dispatched Sunday and Monday to engage ocean users to inform them and warn them of the sightings and the potential threat.

San Diego Lifeguard Chief Rick Wurts said the first shark sighting was reported 2 miles off of La Jolla Shores on Aug. 15 by a kayaker sometime in the morning. He said the kayaker reported seeing “a large gray and white shark that easily was as big as their kayak.”

Later on Sunday evening between 4:30 and 5 p.m., Wurts said there was another shark sighting by lifeguards at Tower 30 off Vallecitos.

“Lifeguards reported they saw an 18- to 24-inch dorsal fin and that it was displaying characteristics more of a shark than a dolphin in the way it was moving in the water,” he said. “They were able to put very powerful binoculars on it and they became convinced it was a shark.”

Wurts added lifeguards reported the shark they saw had gray and white coloring on the bottom.

“Although they (lifeguards) weren’t able to confirm that it was a great white, the markings seem to be consistent with that,” said Wurts, adding the sightings were brief and therefore identification of the shark species involved was inconclusive.

Following the two shark sightings Sunday, Wurts said lifeguards dispatched a rescue boat and a personal watercraft to the area.

“What we do in these situations is contact people in the water and let them know this (shark sighting) information so they can make an informed decision,” he said.

Wurts cautioned ocean users not to swim alone and to refrain from being in areas not protected by lifeguards. He also encouraged people to avoid swimming during the early morning or at dusk.

The lifeguard patrols contacting people about shark sightings began yesterday and will continue for at least 24 hours “to play it safe,” Wurts said.