Coalition between Earthquake Epicenters & Shark Sitings

A little background. Stinson Beach and Bolinas are 2 tiny coastal towns, in Marin county, 45 minutes north of San Francisco. Needless to say, they are both magical. Geographicaly, Bolinas and Stinson are seperated by the mouth of the Bolinas Lagoon, which is about 100 feet wide. Where the currents from the mouth of the lagoon mix with the Pacific Ocean, they make good waves for surfers. Another difference betweeen Stinson and Bolinas, is that they are both on seperate sides of the San Andreas Fault. This is the same fault that the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco occured. The epicenter in 1906 was just 10 miles north of Bolinas. Just last week, on August 19th, 1999, the epicenter of an 5.0 earthquake was centered in Bolinas. It only lasted seconds, thank our higher spirits. It started off as a rumble, then KA-BOOM it was a jolt like an explosion. I was in San Anselmo, about 10 miles from Bolinas ( I live 1/2 mile from George Lucas. He is a regular around here). To finish the background. Last Monday, August 23rd, 1999, days after the earthquake, there was a Great White Shark prowling Stinson. For an hour he just cruised, at the surface, with it’s 18" dorsel fin above the surface, up and down the beach, 150 feet off shore. Then he came back on Tuesday for about 15 minutes. Estimates are that he is 12 to 18 feet long. This is unusual behavier for a Great White. They don’t usually cruise the surface, but stay underwater. Lifeguards closed Stinson for swimmers, etc… at least until Friday, August, 27th 1999, but Bolinas remained open. One last thing, Bolinas does not like road signs to their town. Everytime one is erected by CAL-TRANS, it is torn down, within hours, by Bolinas locals, known as The Bolinas Border Patrol.

That darn shark must be pretty smart, he/she picked the hottest week of the year to make it’s appearance at Stinson and make our lives miserable. It’s funny, there is no swimming at Stinson, but it’s allright in Bolinas, 100 feet away. I’ll bet anything, there are surfers right now at the mouth of Bolinas Lagoon, which is in spitting distance of Stinson. Like the shark cares. Maybe the shark is confused because there are no signs saying he is now in Bolinas and he doesn’t have a map. Might be a good reason for Bolinas signs.

Has there ever been a Great White shark attack on someone not wearing a wet suit? I’ve never heard of one. (editor: Was that guy attacked last year wearing a wet suit? He was on a boogie board.) Theory is Great Whites think people in wet suits are seals, after a taste, they usually spit them up when the figure they are not. Less than 10% of the swimmers wear wetsuits. Yet, the wetsuit wearers are always the ones sharks attack. Maybe the policy should be no wetsuits, rather than no swimming. You could add to that no boogie boarding or surfing, but they wouldn’t boogie board or surf without a wetsuit anyway. I guess the lifeguards don’t want to find out if my theory is right. If I’m wrong, seaweed would hit the fan.

Actually, Great Whites only use one bite to kill their prey. They then wait for their victum to die, by bleeding to death. Then they come back and eat them. So what we hear about them spitting us out, is normal shark behavior. They are just waiting for us to die, before they come back. I guess wetsuits then give us a big advantage, acting like a big bandage, holding us together, so we can paddle back on our surfboard and get rescued. That is the top way, guaranteed, to get a Great White real mad. at you.

It does seem that the only shark attacks in California waters are against wetsuit-clad surfers who apparently look like sea lions from below. However, it should be pointed out that sharks were attacking and eating human beings for thousands of years before the invention of the wetsuit. Shipwrecks that result in several people in the water are a shark’s version of an all-you-can-eat buffet. They also regularly feast on swimmers in places where the natives feel the necessity to stage “reprisal” hunts against them. There’s a tribe in Africa that tracks down man-eating sharks and stuff their mouths with poisonous sea urchines. The sharks will then writh in pain for several hours before dying.

I agree there are sharks that will go for anything. Hawaii has had lots of shark attacks in the past year, many people hobbling around with missing limbs, but these are not Great White Shark attacks. Great Whites mostly like seals and are attracted to blood.

Well, surfers tend to go out into the deeper waters where sharks tend to roam. I do know that here in Monterey Bay there was one kid in the 50’s who was killed by a shark (had a leg taken off and bled to death). Most swimmers dont go out far into the seas here because the water is 55 degrees F, and there are often strong currents that can sweep you out into the middle of the bay (not fun when you get hypothermia). Most of the areas where people do swim in the bay are areas with thick kelp forests, so swimmers tend to stay out of them and dont venture more than 20 feet from shore (I hear great whites tend to prowl the outer edges of the kelp forests which are on average about 30 to forty feet out).

Also, Surfers are in the water much more often than your average Joe. Even in winter here, the surfers are out in the raging sea trying to catch 20 monster waves.