Southern California beach closed after shark bites man during group swim

The beach closure will remain in effect through 9 a.m. on Tuesday, City of Del Mar said

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A 46-year-old man was bitten by a shark in Del Mar and hospitalized Sunday, prompting Del Mar lifeguards to close beaches for swimming and surfing in the area.

The incident happened around 9 a.m. about 100 yards offshore from the Beach Safety Center at 17th Street, according to the City of Del Mar.



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The victim was bitten in his torso, left arm and hand, which are significant injuries, but are non-life-threatening, according to city officials. An ambulance transported him to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.

He was swimming in a group of about a dozen ocean swimmers who regularly meet to train in Del Mar.

One of the witnesses who was in the water when a shark attacked a swimmer off the coast of Del Mar described the tense moments. The 46-year-old swimmer was bit several times on Sunday morning, but the injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. NBC 7's Kelvin Henry reports on June 3, 2024.

Jenna Veal, a friend of the victim who was just feet away from the attack, told NBC's "TODAY" that the victim punched the shark in the face.

"He was incredibly conscious and brave. I mean, he truly fought for his life on multiple fronts today, from the fact that he got bumped by the shark and bit, and then he punched it in the face, and then he was able to still call for help," the eyewitness said. "Then when we got all the way onto shore, he was able to respond to questions. Where we were, what the date was. He said, 'Could you call my wife? Here's her phone number.'"

Lifeguards have posted signs and closed Del Mar beaches for surfing and swimming for one mile in both directions from the location of the incident — which is from about 6th Street to North Beach — and have notified neighboring jurisdictions, as in accordance with shark attack protocols developed by the California Marine Safety Chiefs Association and the Shark Lab at California State University Long Beach.

The beach closure will remain in effect through 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

A shark attack in Del Mar on June 2, 2024 prompted beach closures in the area. (NBC 7 San Diego)
NBC 7 San Diego
A shark attack in Del Mar on June 2, 2024 prompted beach closures in the area. (NBC 7 San Diego)

Chief Lifeguard for the City of Del Mar had expert help on the scene to guide them with their next steps.

"We actually have the shark lab from Long Beach here now. They’re a resource for us here in the state, specifically Southern California, to receive the latest and greatest information on how to respond to incidents like this," City of Del Mar Chief Lifeguard John Edelbrock said.

Del Mar is known to have a significant juvenile great white shark population. However, it is still unclear if that was the type of shark involved in the attack.

NBC7's Shandel Menezes spoke with a biologist about what the increase in sightings means for San Diegans.

"This is the second time in about a year and a half here in Del Mar, so not a good day for ocean lovers," Edelbrock said. "If we, as in everyone, paid attention in the last 4+ years between here and Torrey Pines and like Black’s [Beach] area, we have had quite a few juvenile white sharks in the area."

In November 2022, a Lyn Jutronich was out for a swim with her swimming partner when she was bitten in the thigh by a shark. She was wounded but survived.

Also in 2022, on Christmas Eve, a surfer in the Northern California town of Morro Bay was attacked and killed by a great white.

Last week, a stretch of San Clemente beach, just north of San Diego County, was closed due to what authorities called aggressive sharks.

Marine Biologist and Assistant Teaching Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego, Dovi Kacev, says even still, shark attacks are not common.

"It’s certainly important for everyone to know that shark bites are very rare. We can talk about the statistics and compare them to other things like vending machines falling down on people," Kacev said.

Kacev gave his tips for encountering a shark:

"Be aware when you’re in that environment. If you see a large fish or a large shark that makes you feel uncomfortable, of course get out of the water and tell the lifeguards and let other people know," Kacev said.

NBC 7 spoke with some of the many people gathered on the beach on Sunday.

"I was shocked, honestly. This is the beach that I go to, I’m a local and this is the restaurant I frequent every Sunday for brunch," said beachgoer Marina Vassiliades.

As local leaders prepare to reopen the beach in a couple days, beachgoer Vassiliades is thinking about when and how she will enjoy the beach in the future.

"A little too close to home, but the water is their home," Vassiliades said. "I will still come to the beach."

NBC 7's Audra Stafford spoke with an expert on sharks for Shark Awareness Day.
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