Shark closes Stinson Beach, the first place to look for a dive instructor

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Posted by on September 03, 2004 at 03:43:18:

Two people’s sighting of a shark closed Stinson Beach Saturday. No one was bitten. Park Service staff plan to reopen the waters for swimming on Friday, Sept. 3. The public are, however, allowed to wade up to their knees, but swimming and surfing has been prohibited.

The independent sightings, both made from the south end of the beach, were relayed to the guard tower at about 4:30 p.m. Both reported having seen a shark 10 to 12 feet in length roughly 75 feet offshore.

"The individuals said they saw the silhouette of the shark in the face of the wave," said Pat Norton, Park Service Ranger at Stinson Beach. "They could see the dorsal fin as it turned and headed into deeper water."

The closure occurred as fog rolled in at Stinson Beach and remained through Sunday – a coincidence which reduced the inconvenience to swimmers because of the fog, Norton noted.

"This is a traditional five-day closure following a creditable sighting," Norton said. There is typically at least one closure each summer, the ranger added, and this is the first this year.

Stinson Beach was closed to swimmers twice in 2002. It was closed June 1 after a 12-to-15 foot shark grabbed surfer Lee Fontan from Bolinas and threw him four feet into the air. Fontan survived, but 100 stitches were required to close an eight-inch-deep wound in his thigh and flank, as well as wounds to his arms, rib cage, and shoulder.

The closure was extended after a second shark sighting occurred June 4.

This past Saturday’s shark sightings at Stinson came only two weeks after a great white shark killed an Auburn man who was part of a group diving for red abalone 10 miles north of Fort Bragg.

Millicent Meade, owner of the Live Water Surf Shop in Stinson Beach, said that people will resume surfing at Stinson Beach once the closure ends despite the shark sightings. "Surfers around here usually aren’t affected by that," she said.

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