Trevor Ellis was sitting on his bodyboard on the northside of Manhattan Beach pier this week when a six-foot great white shark breached out of the water about 20 yards past the Roundhouse Aquarium.
Ellis said he could see the sharks white belly like it was in slow motion as the shark crashed back down.
“It looked like a missile coming out of the water,” Ellis said of his Tuesday sighting. “It was the most beautiful and terrifying thing at the same time. Youre scared but its like National Geographic right in front of you in high-definition.”
Ellis was not the only one spotting sharks off the Manhattan Beach coastline this week as a warm summer swell brought above average waves and increased numbers of surfers to the water.
Photographer Bo Bridges, who paddles off-shore almost every day hes in town, said the shark activity this week was definitely more than he has experienced in recent years. Bridges said he saw two sharks breach off the pier on Tuesday morning but hasnt seen a whole lot more since then.
“I feel like theyve migrated back a little more so than they have in the past couple years,” Bridges said. “They were all over the place two or three years ago. On any given day you would see them and they sort of disappeared for a while. All of a sudden now it seems like an influx.”
Roundhouse Aquarist and Educational Director Eric Martin said it was difficult to say whether there is truly increased shark activity right now as so much is still unknown about shark behavior.
Those spotted locally are exclusively juveniles about six to eight feet long that follow the abundance of food, mainly stingrays, batrays and small fish, Martin said. Sightings have been occurring from Santa Barbara to San Onofre and throughout Santa Monica Bay lately, he said.
“In years past they were clumped up in heavy numbers in places,” Martin said. “They are just nicely scattered around now.”
Ultimately, however, the uptick in shark sightings lately could be a function of there being more surfers in the water, drawn by the swell earlier in the week.
“They could have been here over the past eight weeks, they just might not be coming close to shore,” Martin said. “Just when you think you have it understood they put a monkey wrench in your thinking and they do something else.”
When Ellis and his friends spotted the shark breach on Tuesday, nobody got out of the water, taking the whole experience in stride.
“Im still a little worried,” Ellis said. “I have such mixed emotions. It was so real and right in front of you. Ive been wanting to witness that for a long time.”
Martin said the best thing to do if someone finds themselves in the water near a shark is to give them plenty of space and they wont harm anyone.
“They dont feed on feet,” he said. “What they do is cause fear. I like it in the summertime because it chases all the non-locals out of the water.”