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Fishermen spot apparent great white sharks off San Francisco

August 20, 2012 | 10:28 am

Forget Shark Week — in San Francisco, it was shark weekend.

Two area fishermen reported encounters with what were believed to be great white sharks over the weekend, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The first occurred Saturday when Rich Fitzpatrick said he saw a fresh, half-eaten seal floating off Marin, the newspaper reported. Fitzpatrick, who broadcast his story over marine radio, said he moved his commercial boat toward the seal for a better look when the shark came back for the rest of its meal.

"To me, it's exciting to see them. I'm in awe," Fitzpatrick told the newspaper, adding that he's seen about a dozen great white sharks in his 35-year fishing career. "They are not scared of anything. They just have one thing on their mind, and that's to eat."

The second encounter was reported about 2 p.m. Sunday, the Chronicle reported. The charter Outer Limits had come across a school of salmon about eight miles west of Lands End and had been at the spot for hours when a shark swam up, biting a 20-plus-pound salmon an angler had hooked.

"On the side of the boat we saw this massive splash. I looked over and saw the fin and shouted to everybody, 'That's a great white!'" Jim Robertson, captain of the boat, told the newspaper. "You could see his back, his dorsal, his tail."

The shark circled the fish before chomping it in half, Robertson said. The shark went back for a second bite, but the angler managed to haul what was left of his catch aboard.

"Joe had about 8 pounds of the salmon left on the hook," Robertson told the newspaper. "The shark got the rest."

In Southern California, Santa Barbara beaches were closed last week after a surfer spotted a great white and a harbor seal was found with wounds from an apparent shark attack. An area marine center reported six shark sightings this summer off Santa Barbara County beaches.

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— Kate Mather

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