As many in the Coronado community are aware, this past week, on Dec. 30, the local beaches were placed under a mandatory 48-hour lockdown following body surfers’ run-in with a juvenile shark here along the beaches of Coronado. The slight brush with danger left one of the surfers’ fins with a few teeth-mark imprints. And while no one was hurt, it was fair to ask the question, “How safe do Coronado surfers feel following these shark sightings?”
For many local surfers like longtime San Diegan and Coronado resident Scott Beall this past week’s shark, encounter/sighting isn’t something new. But rather a much more common occurrence in Coronado waters.
“I actually had seen a shark close up just about four months ago,” said Beall, “I think the number of sightings have definitely gone up over the years, and I think that could be because of all the marine life in the area. There’s seems to be more fish, stingrays, seals, and even pods of dolphins that wade in these waters now than there were, say maybe 5 years ago.” Beall is a member of a small group of surfers from the Cays and pointed out that he and his group have noticed much more shark activity all around Coronado “You can see them down in the Cays sometimes and I know some of my buddies have seen them breach at North Island. They’re definitely out there.”
Another long time Coronado surfer Chrissy Seggerman also talked about the increased number of Coronado’s shark sightings are certainly more frequent these days, saying, “I remember always telling my friends, ‘Oh, there’s never any sharks here in Coronado.’ But that all seemed to change in the last summer or two, and now I constantly hear from other surfers about another sighting in Coronado.”
Beall and his friends aren’t the only ones who have sighted some of these sharks. Local Coronado surfer Jake Herman had a sighting of his own two weeks before the Dec. 30 beach shutdown. “I saw one myself really close up on Dec. 16. I thought it was just a big clump of seaweed, but when it moved and got closer, it definitely made me jump. I paddled back in, hung out for about 10-15 minutes, and decided to head back out.” said Herman.
I asked Herman if the possibility of a Shark encounter is something that he, as a surfer, thinks about often before he heads into the waters. “It’s not something that you really think a lot about, but it’s defiantly always in your mind. You have to understand that when you’re going into the water, you’re going into their territory. It’s important to remember you not alone out there.” Seggerman shared a similar opinion to Herman’s in regards to thinking about a shark encounter saying, “I think most surfers know that sharks are out there and know that in a way you’re going into their home. So if you’re going out there, you accept the risk that you could encounter a shark.”
With the ever-increasing amount of shark sightings along Coronado’s shores by local surfers, it’s fair to wonder if some would head for safer waters. To which all of those who I interviewed told me they’re just fine staying and surfing the Beaches or Coronado. “For me, these sightings make me just want to get back in the water and surf.” said Seggerman “I know that sounds weird, but I just really want to get out there and see one.”
Herman and Beall also shared a similar enthusiasm for getting back on the board saying, “I’ll absolutely be comfortable going back out there and surfing again. We’re usually out there together in larger groups, which always helps to put people at ease.” said Herman.
“Me and my friends have been out surfing for a long time. We know sharks can be out there, and I think that as long as the waves are good, we’ll go,” Beall told me
This past week’s news may have a few thinking twice about entering the water here in Coronado, at least for the immediate future. But it’s clear that for the many avid local surfers here in Coronado, the shark’s sightings won’t be stopping them anytime soon.