SANTA CRUZ: Water activity restrictions lifted a day early

SANTA CRUZ: Water activity restrictions

SANTA CRUZ, Calif - UPDATE 7/14/2017 4:42 p.m.: On Friday, Santa Cruz surfers are back at world famous spot Steamer Lane doing what they do best — catching some waves.

“It's a beautiful day and the swell was decent,” said surfer Cole Robinson. “There weren't that many people, so it was nice.”

The city put a water activity ban in the area since Tuesday after a great white shark knocked a kayaker off his boat Tuesday.

This was to let the sharks cool off and to keep people safe.

“That's a serious incident. We don't have things like that occur very often,” said city manager Scott Collins.

But nothing was going to keep enthusiastic surfers like Daria Shiek and Sophie Holin off their boards.

“I actually texted her like, 'hey, there was a shark attack, no one is going to be out, we should go,” Sheik said.

While some ignored the ban, the city said it didn't ticket anyone.

“Two lifeguards came out on their jet skis and alerted us that there had been an incident or an attack, and they said that we could face fines but like they didn't have waterproof tickets,” Shiek said

After three days of water and drone patrols, lifeguards said they didn't find any more signs of shark activity and reopened the restricted area a day early. 

“Not sharky at all. Very comfortable,” Robinson said.

And in the rare case you come across a shark, here’re some surfer wisdom.

“Apparently, if you have a darker bottomed board, it's more likely that you look like a seal. So that's like a big surfer no no,” said Holin said.

“I hear you are supposed to punch them in the nose. I don't if that would really work. But i think if the shark wants you, then you are probably toast,” Robinson added.

UPDATE 7/14/2017 9:07 a.m. The Santa Cruz Fire Department has lifted all water restrictions a day early. 

As of Friday, July 14, at 9:00 a.m.  the Fire Departments Marine Safety personnel have confirmed that there hasn't been any shark activity in the area since the shark attack on Tuesday. 

All beaches and beach access in the area are open. 

According to Santa Cruz Fire Chief Jim Frawley, “the attack on Tuesday gave us all a scare, and thankfully it resulted in no injuries to the kayaker.  We greatly appreciate the community’s patience and compliance with the water activity restrictions.  In thoroughly combing the area, as recently as this morning, and not witnessing or receiving reports of any subsequent shark activity since Tuesday, we have determined that the public can resume water activities a day earlier than planned.”     


It was supposed to be just another day on the water out at Steamer Lane, but for Steve Lawson it was anything but ordinary. 

"It felt like I hit a rock,” said Lawson. “I looked forward and there was a shark holding the front of my boat. He let go and I went over."

Lawson has been boating in the bay for more than 20 years and this is his first-ever run in with a great white. 

"This is the first time a shark has even come close to me, other than a little shark that was getting away from something underneath (the boat)," said Lawson.

Lawson wasn't hurt and isn't shaken up. 

"You know, things are out there, things happen and it was not a big deal," said Lawson.

But for the city of Santa Cruz, it is enough of a concern to keep people out of the water within a mile of where it happened. That includes Cowell, Main Beach and other access points. 

"This is precautionary and out of an abundance of caution to make sure we have an idea about what is going on out there,” said Jim Frawley with the Santa Cruz Fire Department. Frawley also said the four-day ban is a cooling-off period for the animal and gives lifeguards time to determine if this was an isolated incident or if there's an active feeding. 

While the beaches are still open, the four-day ban is bad news for junior lifeguards.

"A couple of my brothers are instructors for them (the junior guard),” said long-time Santa Cruz resident John Mullen. “They’re going to have to be up in the sand, kind of grounded." 

Regardless of the water ban, many surfers say they understand the risk for sharks and that it’s something they live with it every time they are out in the water.

"I mean, the sharks are there every day,” said Santa Cruz surfer Osh Bartlett “They are in the lineup, they are cruising the bay all the time.” 

As for Lawson, he knows the risk but it won't stop him from getting back in the water Wednesday, this time at a different spot and in a new boat. 

"I guess I will just head down toward Pleasure Point and paddle back from there," he said.

If there is no threat the city says they'll lift the ban on Saturday. The cost of violating the ban is $200.

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