California: Shark sighting closes surf at Huntington Beach


January 9, 2017 – A shark sighting Sunday in the ocean off Huntington Beach Pier led authorities to shut down a surf contest and order a 24-hour closure of the water to bathing or surfing.

Lifeguards reported on their Twitter feed that “a 9-10 foot shark was spotted off the pier just before 1 p.m.” It said that the shark did not appear aggressive, but the water was closed as a precaution for a mile in each direction from the pier.

“The beach itself remains open,” the notice said. “However, the water will be closed to the public for the next 24 hours.”

Alisa Cairns, coach of the Laguna Beach High School surf team, said two of her surfers were nearing the end of a quarterfinal heat in a Scholastic Surf Series contest on the south side of the pier when lifeguards ordered everyone out of the water, canceling the event.

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One of the Laguna Beach surfers, Noah North, 17, survived the shark scare but stepped on a stingray on his way back to the beach, Cairns said. The teen was in agony on the beach and had to spend nearly three hours soaking his foot in hot water provided by lifeguards before he was released to go home. The pain got so bad on his way home, Cairns said, that his parents stopped at Hoag Hospital. North was reported to be doing well Sunday evening after receiving antibiotics and pain medicine.

Cairns estimated that “five or six” surfers from the contest suffered painful stingray stings during the contest, including one other Laguna Beach team member.

As for the shark, Cairns said none of the surfers saw it, and she believed it may have been spotted on the other side of the pier, but both sides of the pier were declared off-limits to surfing. “They have to take it seriously,” she said.


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