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Fatal shark attack off San Diego coast *

April 25, 2008 | 12:19 pm

Shark Updated 12:19 pm

A 66-year-old man swimming in the ocean off Solana Beach was killed this morning by a shark, quite possibly a great white shark, according to one marine expert. The attack took place about 150 yards offshore as the man, identified as Dave Martin from Solana Beach, was swimming with a group training for an event, reports Molly Hennessy-Fisk.

"They were swimming and the victim apparently yelled ‘Shark,’ or words to that effect, and the witnesses that were in the water apparently saw him actually being lifted out of the water and drug under,” said San Diego County sheriff's spokesman Phil Brust. “They went to his aid and dragged him onto the beach, where he succumbed to his injuries.”

It's not clear what kind of shark killed Martin. But at a news conference, shark expert Richard H. Rosentblatt from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said that based on descriptions of the attack and the wounds inflicted "this almost certainly was a great white shark."

Officials have closed off beaches in Solana Beach and Encinitas as a precaution, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.  Aircraft will patrol the coast for the remainder of the weekend in an effort to try and spot a shark.

The Associated Press is reporting that the last fatal shark attack in California took place in 2004, when a great white killed a skin diver off the Mendocino County coast.

-- Jesus Sanchez

Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times