This Just In: Sharks!

Close encounters on both coasts
Staff Writer

Two close calls with great white sharks have summer swimmers from coast to coast on red alert.

First, at 8:30am on Saturday, July 7, a kayak fisherman angling near a kelp field off the coast of Santa Cruz, CA got the fish story of a lifetime when an (estimated to be) 18-foot-long great white rose up out of the water and chomped down on of the nose of his 13.5-foot boat.

“It started with a loud thud and violent jolt on the rear starboard side,” wrote Rommel Camu, 52, in a kayak-angler forum after the attack. “The back of my kayak rose a few feet, then the attack soon happened. I saw the shark's massive head come out of the water and bite the starboard underside. His head was gray and white underneath his mouth. His mouth was already close when I saw him come out of the water with my kayak in his mouth. I can still see vividly the seriousness on his eyes. This all happened in about 2 seconds.”

Camu was knocked out of the boat and his overturned kayak began taking on water through its punctured hull. Luckily he was quickly rescued by a nearby powerboat. “The only time I was really worried was when my feet were still in the water and Mr. Jaws would a take a parting bite,” he said.
Rommel "Mel" Camu got the fish story of a lifetime last weekend

Hours later, on the other side of the country, a classic “Jaws” moment unfolded when a Cape Cod beach emptied of its weekend swimmers while a great white shark's dorsal fin menacingly trailed a recreational kayaker. Walter Szulc of New Hampshire didn’t know it then, but a picture of him paddling shirtless would soon be bouncing around every corner of the internet, and even featured in Brian Williams’ NBC news broadcast.

“I had a deep swallow, that ‘Oh my God’ moment, then I just paddled,” he told The Boston Globe.

So, is this reason to stay out of the water? Likely not. According to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida, there were 75 unprovoked shark attacks on humans last year worldwide, resulting in 12 fatalities. The United States had the most attacks—29—none of which were fatal.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the California incident was the first such shark/boater encounter recorded in decades. Despite the blockbuster "Jaws" set on a fictional island off of Cape Cod in the summer of 1975, there hasn’t been a shark attack in there since 1936, and the Cape Cod Times reports that a  greater-than-usual number of shark sightings this summer can be attributed to an increase in the seal population—a byproduct of conservation efforts.

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