Sharks & Surf Beach

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Surf Beach off the coast of California’s Santa Barbara County has beautiful dunes, coastal flora, a backdrop of the Vandenberg Air Force Base — and a mysterious marine killer who attacks surfers in October every two years. Or at least, that’s what Discovery Channel researchers sought to prove in Tuesday night’s episode of “Shark Week.” Their investigation was inconclusive, but they refined methods for identifying sharks that will be useful in the aftermath of future attacks.

Beach-goers have been attacked by white sharks at Surf Beach every two years like clockwork, in October of 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014. It may seem unlikely that one shark could be responsible for all of these incidents, but that’s not necessarily true. A researcher told The Discovery Channel that the pattern was “eerie” because “adult female white sharks have a 2-year migration pattern, so it could be the same shark coming to the same beach every two years.”

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A highly migratory animal like the shark will sometimes return to the same exact spot, on the same day, every year or two.

With October being in full swing, you’ll likely see memorials placed throughout the beach, signs or little rock designs in the sands. Please be respectful of these for the families of our lost surfers.

October 2008Kyle Knapp was surfing when a shark attacked his board; he escaped unharmed.

October 22, 2010: 19-year-old Lucas Ransom was surfing when a shark bit him on the leg and pulled him underwater. His friend managed to pull him to shore, but not in time to save him.

October 23, 2012: 39-year-old Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., father of two children, was surfing when a shark bit him on the torso and pulled him underwater. As in Ransom’s case, a friend managed to pull him to shore, but not in time to save him.

October 3, 2014Ryan Howell was kayaking when a shark attacked his boat and pulled him into the water. He managed to escape unharmed, and credits the kayak — which was stuck between him and the shark — for saving his life.

2018 falls into the every 2 year attack pattern, so residents and visitors are asked to stay vigilant. Cell phone service at Surf Beach isn’t great and there are no life guards on duty.

With the Plover Season over, here are the rules for Surf Beach on the Plover Off-Season: 

-No littering (including fishing bait and fish remains). Please use trash containers  located at beach entry points.
-No pets off-leash
-No camping
-No beach fires
-No fireworks
-No kite flying
-No feeding wildlife
-No horses or ATV’s (except for authorized enforcement personnel)
-No fishing
-No boating

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Souces: VAFB & Inverse

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