California

Shark bumps into 14-year-old boy, forcing closure of California beach, officials say

A school of fish trail a shark in a New York Aquarium exhibit. On Friday, a 14-year-old boy’s close encounter with a shark prompted the closure of Huntington Beach in Southern California.
A school of fish trail a shark in a New York Aquarium exhibit. On Friday, a 14-year-old boy’s close encounter with a shark prompted the closure of Huntington Beach in Southern California. The Associated Press file

A 14-year-old boy swimming off Huntington Beach in Southern California spotted a shark’s dorsal fin approaching him Friday night, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The boy felt the shark bump him in the chest, then watched its tail fin as it swam away, Lt. Claude Panis of the Huntington Beach Fire Department told the publication.

“Based on the size of the fin, it was likely a juvenile between 5 and 8 feet long,” Panis told the Times. The boy was not hurt in the 8 p.m. encounter.

Officials closed the beach at 10 p.m. after the incident, which took place in about four feet of water, reported The Orange County Register.

A search-and-rescue vessel and helicopter searched the water off the beach Saturday and found no sign of the shark, so the closure was lifted at 12:15 p.m., the publication reported.

“We’re surprised but definitely cautious,” beach-goer Monique Polidoro told KCBS. “Not gonna let the kids in, particularly with the waves here pretty rough. So, she can go in up to her knees, cool off, and that’s it.”

Others at the beach, near Long Beach and Santa Ana south of downtown Los Angeles, were less concerned.

“If you’re not from around here, maybe it would scare you off, but if you surf every day, then it’s not that big of a deal,” surfer Brandon Bauman told the station.

The last recorded shark encounter at Huntington Beach took place Feb. 8, “when a surfer felt a shark bump into him,” Panis told the Times. There were 19 shark sightings at the beach in 2017.

“The experts say you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than actually being attacked by a shark,” Panis told the publication.

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