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Thousands head to beaches despite stingray warnings and recent shark sightings

Posted at 5:23 PM, Jun 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-30 20:23:11-04

CORONADO, Calif., (KGTV) — Despite recent shark sighting, thousands of people headed to the beach for the pre-holiday weekend. But instead of sharks, dozens of people left the beach after being stung by stingrays.

Beautiful Coronado is home to majestic creatures, including great white sharks.

"We do think that the great white shark populations are increasing," Heidi Dewar, research biologist at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center said. She believes the population increase is linked to the implementation of fishing regulations in the 1990s.

"In 1994, California pushed all the net-based fisheries outside of state water, which is three nautical miles out. And what that did was that basically protected most of the nursery habitat of the juvenile sharks on the coast," Dewar said. "About the same time, the UN banned these high seas directed at fisheries, which were killing some adult white sharks."

Last week, two juvenile white sharks were spotted about a half a mile offshore from the Coronado coast. There were no shark attacks like the one last year in Encinitas, where a 13-year-old boy was bitten in the shoulder while lobster spearfishing. Still, the city officials in Coronado notified beachgoers to be on the lookout. That did not stop 11-year-old Tobias Appel from diving in.

" We just came here to boogie board and have a bunch of fun," Tobias said. He and his family from Phoenix are vacationing in Coronado. They were having a great time until Tobias was stung by a stingray.

"Today is not my lucky day," Tobias said. This was his first time getting stung by a ray. We met him as he was sticking his foot into a hot water bath at the lifeguard station.

"It is under. Right there," he said.

In the hour Tobias was at the lifeguard station neutralizing the venom, we saw several others being carried in for emergency treatment. Lifeguards said warm water, low tide, and a packed beach is the perfect formula for a stingray warning.

"One of the most amazing things about the ocean is that right there we have wilderness," Dewar said. "And with the wilderness, we have wild animals. So that's definitely a side of the ocean that people need to keep in mind when they go swimming or surfing."

Biologists say remember, this summer when you are going to the beach, you are stepping into the animals' homes. So do not forget to be respectful and careful, while you are having fun.

Meanwhile, Tobias has one more day in Coronado before he leaves for Phoenix. He hopes to enjoy what he can.

"It's going to be a long drive home. Hopefully, they'll have hot water there," Tobias said.