Three beaches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Lompoc in Santa Barbara County in Central California, have been closed in the wake of a great white shark attack on a surfer on Thursday, Oct. 2.
The surfer, who sustained injuries to his knee and cuts elsewhere on his body, is expected to recover from the attack, which officials said occurred about 5:30 p.m. local time., in the waters just north of Wall Beach. As a precaution, the base, best known as a rocket launch site and landing site for the space shuttle, has closed Wall, Surf and Minuteman beaches until 4 p.m. on Sunday.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Ralph Collier, president of the Shark Research Institute, said the shark was between eight and 10 feet long.
There may have been two additional attacks in the area the next day. GrindTV.com and KSBY-TV in San Luis Obispo are reporting that kayak fishermen told friends and shared on social media that sharks upended their watercraft on Friday in two separate incidents near the southern end of the base.
In the second attack, a kayaker said that a breaching shark, which he identified as a great white, knocked his friend out of a 12-foot kayak and then temporarily impeded rescue efforts. The GrindTV story says that the shark damaged the kayak, but did not report any injuries to the kayakers, who eventually thought the better of fishing in the area and returned to shore.
GrindTV notes that the incidents with the surfer and the kayakers may represent third, fourth and fifth attacks to take place in October at the base’s beaches since 2010. On Oct 22 of that year, a shark estimated by a witness at 18 feet long severely bit bodyboarding college student Lucas McKain Ransom on the leg. He died of massive blood loss a short time later at Surf Beach. On Oct. 23, 2012, another attack by a 15-to-16-foot great white killed surfer Francisco Javier Solorio, 39, also at Surf Beach.
While shark attacks remain rare, it’s not the first time this year that a great white has set upon someone in California waters. In July, a shark estimated to be about seven feet long bit 50-year-old swimmer Steven Robles near the pier in Manhattan Beach, just south of LAX. Fortunately, Robles survived the attack, which left him with injuries to his torso.
The incident prompted the Manhattan Beach City Council to reconsider regulations allowing fishing off the pier, since the shark was believed to have been attempting to free itself from a fisherman’s hook when it attacked Robles.
The city imposed a 60-day ban on fishing from the pier–the waters around which are popular with both swimmers and surfers–but that was lifted in September. The city did authorize new regulations, including a prohibition on chumming, or throwing bait in the water to attract fish.