Shark attack in Solana Beach; no immediate threat to La Jolla

The person who died from a shark attack in Solana Beach has been identified. The victim was attacked near Plaza Street at Fletcher Cove.

The victim was 66-year-old Dave Martin of Solana Beach, a retired veterinarian and triathlete, said family friend Rob Hill.

The attack occurred around 7 a.m. Friday morning while Martin was swimming about 150 yards offshore in water 20 to 30 feet deep. Other swimmers pulled Martin out of the water. He was taken to the Fletcher Cove lifeguard station for medical attention. He was pronounced dead at 7:49 a.m.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography shark expert Richard Rosenblatt says the shark was probably a great white between 12 and 17 feet long.

Beaches from Torrey Pines State Beach to south Carlsbad will be closed to swimming and surfing for 72 hours, with the advisory to be lifted Monday.

So far, no San Diego beaches have been closed, including La Jolla Shores, San Diego Lifeguard Lieutenant Nick Lerma said. “Proximity is not of an immediate issue to La Jolla.”

Allegedly, there have been three shark attack incidents that Lerma knows of that occurred in the waters near the La Jolla coast. Two fatal, one in the 1950s and the other in 1994, and one non-fatal incident in 1995.

Lerma said the incident that took place in the 1950s has been hard to prove. The more recent attacks in the ‘90s allegedly occurred, as well, because there were no witnesses.

According to previously published news reports, the last time a person was allegedly killed by a shark in San Diego was in April 1994, Lifeguard Lieutenant Brant Bass said, when a woman’s body was found in kelp beds near Sunset Cliffs with injuries from shark bites. After further investigation, the medical examiners office had reported that the bites had occurred post-mortem.

Lerma said that experts at the time thought the bite marks matched that of a great white shark.

The other attack in 1995 occurred at the point in La Jolla where two watercrafts, a kayak and row boat, where in the water. It is believed that a great white shark came out of the water and attacked one of the small crafts.

“No other sharks come out of the water and do that,” Lerma said.

There are signs that there is more recent shark activity off the La Jolla coastline.

“Children’s pool seals have shown signs of sharks (bite marks),” Lerma said.

According to the National Geographic’s Web site, of the 100-plus annual shark attacks worldwide, fully one-third to one-half are attributable to great whites. However, most of these are not fatal, and new research finds that great whites, who are naturally curious, are “sample biting” then releasing their victims rather than preying on humans. It’s not a terribly comforting distinction, but it does indicate that humans are not actually on the great white’s menu.


Additional reporting by Solana Beach Reporter Laura Petersen. Contact Laura at


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National Geographic Fast Facts

Great White Shark

Type: Fish

Diet: Carnivore

Size: 15 ft (4.6 m) to more than 20 ft (6 m)

Weight: 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg) or more

Group name: School or shoal

Did you know? Great whites can detect one drop of blood in 25 gallons (100 liters) of water and can sense even tiny amounts of blood in the water up to 3 miles (5 kilometers) away.

Protection status: Endangered


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