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Great white shark spotted off Northern California beach

June 20, 2011 | 12:41 pm

Getprev3 Water access at Stinson Beach north of San Francisco was limited Monday after a great white shark was spotted about 250 yards offshore, officials said.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter saw the shark just after 2 p.m. Sunday traveling south off the northern part of the beach, said officials with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which encompasses Stinson Beach.

The shark was estimated to be 8- to 10-feet long, park officials said.

Lifeguards cleared the water of swimmers and surfers and allowed only beachgoers to wade in knee-deep water, said Alexandra Picavet, a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Deep water will remain off limits until Thursday, as regulations require waters be closed to swimming and surfing for up to five days after a shark is spotted, Picavet said.

No shark has been seen since Sunday.

Picavet said this is the first shark sighting that has required action at Stinson Beach this year. According to the Marin Independent Journal, Marin County has had more recorded shark attacks than another other place in the world.

Twelve people have been attacked off the Marin coast. Scientists call an offshore area encompassing Stinson Beach the “Red Triangle” because of the large amount of great white sharks that scour the waters for prey.

The triangle stretches from Año Nuevo in the north out to the Farallon Islands and south to Monterey Bay, and experts believe at least 200 great whites hunt in the area.


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-- Kate Mather

Photo: A great white shark. Credit: Richard Green / Associated Press