Expert weighs in on prevalence of white sharks in San Diego

SAN DIEGO - A great white shark attack just to the north of San Diego prompted 10News to begin digging into the most populated pockets of great whites off the region's coast.

On Saturday, a fisherman in Manhattan Beach – 120 miles north of San Diego – hooked the white shark and had been trying to reel him in for about 45 minutes when it appears he led the shark right into the path of swimmer Steve Robles.

"I was staring at this shark eyeball to eyeball," said Robles. "Literally, like right here. It was the most frightening thing I could ever, anyone could ever, experience."

Robles was bitten in the ribcage but survived to tell of his terrifying attack.

The attack was rare, even though white shark numbers are increasing off our coastline.

10News contacted shark expert Ralph Collier of the Shark Research Committee, which has been studying white sharks since 1960s. Collier is also the author of "Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century."

"Estimates range from 200 adult animals off our coast all the way up to 2,000 animals off the coast," he told 10News.

Collier added, "We have white sharks all along our coast. I receive photographs frequently from people in the San Diego area who find pinnipeds, or seals or sea lions, on the beach dead with a big bite in it."

On April 25, 2008, North County triathlete David Martin was killed by a great white shark in Solana Beach. Before that, the last local confirmed shark killing was in 1959.

"White sharks are all up and down our coast," said Collier. "The thing that people need to remember is when you drop yourself in the middle of a pinniped population, that's where adult white sharks feed."

According to his website, other areas where great white sharks have been reported locally are Imperial Beach, Sunset Cliffs, Ocean Beach and other areas of La Jolla.

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