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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Shark Kills Triathlete and San Diego Beaches Closed

(Great White Shark)

Nine members of the Triathlon Club of San Diego were swimming at Solana Beach yesterday when a shark attacked and killed one of it's members, David Martin, who was 66 years old.
Martin was the first shark fatality in San Diego County since 1959, although in 1994 the body of Michelle Von Emster was found, missing the right leg, but the medical examiner ruled that death was caused by falling off the cliffs.

This stretch of coastline has no history of shark activity.

The members of the Triathlon Club of San Diego were training for a triathlon and were headed north from Fletcher Cove Beach Park toward Tide Beach Park when the shark attacked Martin, biting into both of his legs as he was approximately 150 yards offshore in water 20 to 30 feet deep.

Witnesses say they saw him lifted into the air, waving his arms in the air wildly before he went down, then they grabbed him and held him until others could come helped take him to shore.

One witness, Diana Noble, was swimming about 20 feet behind Martin when she heard someone yell, "shark" and she says, "I thought that was a dumb thing to say. My brain couldn't register that it was real."

Noble also says that after they brought Martin to shore, they saw that, "Where the injuries were, it was just a massive pool of blood."

Noble, who has competed at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii the past two years, said the trauma will deter her from returning to the ocean anytime soon.

“It's such a freak accident,“ she said. “It seems surreal.”

Some San Diego beaches are closed and being patrolled throughout the weekend as helicopters from the Coast Guard and county Sheriff's Department fly along the shoreline to see if the shark was still in the area.

Another witnesses, who was working on the beach repairing a seawall, heard the commotion and ran over when Martin was brought out of the water and along with the lifeguard, started CPR, but Martin was already dead.

Romero describes the wounds, saying, "His left leg from the knee down was just shredded", then added that the right leg had a wound so deep it went right down to the bone.

According to Richard Rosenblatt, a professor emeritus of marine biology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, the description of the attack from the eye witnesses, suggest it was a Great White shark that attacked Martin because he "was thrust vertically up out of the water", which typically matches the methods that Great Whites use to ambush their prey from below.

The County's medical examiner ask Rosenblatt to examined Martin's body to make a determination and Rosenblatt said, "Those are the kind of slicing wounds that you would expect from a white shark."

After delivering a single, devastating bite, white sharks typically back away and wait for their prey to become unconscious before returning to feed.

Rosenblatt also believes from the bite marks on Martin's body, that the Great White that attacked would be about 2 to 17 feet long.

Jeffrey Graham, who is a marine biologist and shark expert at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, has this advice for swimmers, "Don't go in waters occupied by large numbers of marine mammals, such as sea lions", he continues, "Wherever there are marine mammals, such as in a rookery, these sharks are going to be nearby because that's what they're built to eat."

You can find out more about Great White Sharks at the National Geographic website.