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Sharks in the waters 

Two shark sightings in local waters in less than a week have caused quite a splash.

On June 27, a 15-foot white shark was spotted near Avila Beach. Three days later, an eight-foot great white was reportedly seen 150 yards south of the Pismo Beach Pier.

As a result, the Port San Luis Harbor District implemented its Dangerous Marine Incident Policy and closed the waters of Avila Beach from the day of the sighting through July 2.

"The five-day water-use restriction is meant to be an opportunity to educate the public about specific ocean hazards," said Casey Nielsen, Harbor District operations manager.

As opposed to Avila Beach's shark-sighting policies, Pismo Beach officials don't have the authority to prohibit people from entering the waters off its city's coast their shoreline is controlled by the state.

As an alternative to a coastline lockout, Pismo Beach officials have posted warnings in an effort to help inform beachgoers about the potential risks associated with the recently seen carnivorous fish.

And those risks are potentially fatal.

In August of 2003, a white shark killed a 50-year-old Nipomo resident as she swam near seals near the Avila Beach pier. But despite that fatal attack and the recent sightings, shark attacks are thought of as extremely rare.

According to the International Shark Attack File, there's been just 92 recorded shark attacks in California since 1926, with seven of those happening in SLO County two of which resulted in death.

"Obviously there's that whole primal fear factor of knowing what they are capable of," Central Coast surfer Tim Limbers said of sharks. "The sightings will make me think twice, but it wont keep me from getting in the water."

If you are attacked, experts advise, defend yourself. Concentrate your attack against the shark's eyes, gills, and nose the shark's most sensitive areas. If bitten, try to stop the bleeding and get immediate medical attention.


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