Beaches close after reported shark attack

Ocean access is closed for five days within a mile of a beach near Watsonville where a surfer reported being attacked by a shark on Saturday and warnings have also been posted after a shark sighting in Santa Cruz on Sunday, state park officials said Monday.

At about 6:45 p.m. Saturday, a man was surfing on Manresa State Beach outside Watsonville when he was knocked off of his board into the air and saw a shark biting on his board, California State Parks Supervising Ranger Joe Connors said.

The surfer, who was tethered to the board, was dragged underneath the water for a time, took off the leash and was then able to get back on the board and use his arms to paddle to shore, Connors said.

An attack by a shark triggers closure of ocean access and to be on the safe side, state parks officials posted notices prohibiting people from going into the water for the next five days within a mile of Manresa State Beach, Connors said.

State parks investigators want to interview the surfer further and examine his board for evidence of the reported attack, Connors said.

In a separate incident just before 5 p.m. Sunday, a woman on Seabright State Beach in Santa Cruz flagged down a ranger to report seeing a shark attack a harbor seal about 50 yards out in the water, state parks officials said.

The woman told the ranger she saw thrashing in the sea, the seal being thrown in the air, blood in the water and the head of a shark, which had a white neck, Connors said. Rangers considered the report credible because the woman holds a doctorate in marine biology, according to Connors.

State parks officials order a three-day posting of warnings on beaches within one mile of a sighting of a shark that shows aggressive behavior toward animals or humans, Connors said.

The warning has been posted at Seabright and Twin Lakes State Beach and Santa Cruz Harbor officials and area lifeguards were notified, he said. The two reported shark sightings so close together are unusual because state parks officials receive only about one reported sighting per year, Connors said.

Anyone with information about the two reported sightings may call Connors directly at (831) 423-0528, he said.