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Great white shark attacks seal -- not human -- near Catalina Island

June 13, 2008 |  2:34 pm

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Sharks have been making news with alarming frequency this spring, starting with fatal attacks on humans off Solana Beach and near Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo in late April; then two more attacks in late May -- one of them fatal -- on surfers near the resort destination in Mexico.

Hopefully that's the end of that for a while, but here's a tidbit NOT meant to throw a scare into anyone: Fishermen aboard a commercial squid boat on June 5 came across an injured harbor seal on the backside of Santa Catalina Island. As the vessel, Pacific Carnage, approached the pinniped, a great white shark emerged and "snapped the seal up," said Don Ashley, owner of two sportfishing landings in Long Beach, and father of the vessel's owner.

Apparently, the shark had struck the seal, then returned to finish it off. White sharks are known to frequent the remote backside of the island, but sightings on the populated front side are extremely rare. Hopefully that trend will continue.

-- Pete Thomas

Archive photo of great white shark by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times
For descriptive photo captions and links to related story,
click "Read more."  

The photo of this great white was taken during research for a previously published story by Pete Thomas. That story, "Choosing to swim with the sharks off Baja's coast," can be found here.

Original photo captions follow:

  • The mostly small- to medium-size white sharks in Southern California waters usually prey-switch from fish to mammals at about 12 feet, then gravitate toward seal rookeries.
  • A great white plies waters at Guadalupe Island, which has emerged as premier destination for divers seeking sharks.
  • Great White Sharks of Guadalupe Island, a 22-mile-long volcanic land mass 150 miles west of Baja California. The Island has become a new preeminent shark-diving location and there is competition between operators to lure passengers onto their boats.
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