Shark/Kayak Incident in California

Wednesday, 04 August 2010 08:29 | Written by 
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Duane Strosaker and his damaged kayak Duane Strosaker and his damaged kayak Credits: Duane Strosaker

Duane Strosaker was paddling his sea kayak about 5nm offshore from the Gaviota State Beach in Southern California, when a Great White Shark decided he was worth investigating.  Duane "screamed like a girl" (who wouldn't) as the shark gently put its mouth around the hull of the kayak and held it for "10-15 seconds".

Oil Rig Awareness

In the light of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Strosaker has been conducting an awareness campaign to highlight the fact that there are no fewer than 23 oil rigs operating off the California coast.  His paddle on Monday was to the three rigs moored off the Gaviota State Beach.  He was on his way back, in thick fog, when the shark decided to take an interest.

The damage to his kayak (the hull of which is constructed of 4mm ply & three layers of 6oz fibreglass) was minimal.  The shark had bitten down on the bulkhead in front of the cockpit, and had merely punctured the surface.  He was able to deal with the consequent ingress of water by stopping every mile to pump out.

Although he had a VHF radio, he didn't feel it necessary to call for help and made his own way back to the beach.

Duane Strosaker's Story is here

Sharks and Surfskis

Over the years there has been a small number of encounters between sharks and surfskis - one of which in Cape Town in 2005 bears a striking resemblance to Strosaker's experience.  On that day Trevor Wright had his ski "held gently" by a shark near Sunny Cove in Fish Hoek.  The damage to the ski was substantial but Wright was also able to make his way unassisted to the shore.

Other encounters have been less gentle and have resulted in paddlers being thrown into the water and the craft involved being severely damaged.  However, apart from the memorable occasion on which a surfski paddler jumped onto a shark in shallow water in order to assist an angler...  there have been no surfski paddlers (that I'm aware of) who have been badly injured in encounters with sharks.  (One paddler was bitten on the foot many years ago in Durban, but was able to paddle back to shore.)

The point I'm making is:

  • Sharks live in the sea
  • We play in the sea
  • Sometimes our paths are going to intersect
  • But the chances of an encounter are minute
  • And the chances of being injured are even less

In my opinion, you're much more likely to be injured driving to the beach!  

For more on this, see:

Well done to Duane for keeping his head...  he'll be dining out on that story for the rest of his life!


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