Del Mar, approximately 20 miles north of San Diego, has been left rocked by a recent shark attack. The event happened just 100 yards offshore, within view of the 17th Street lifeguard tower. A 46-year-old man was the victim of the attack and was swimming with a large group who regularly use this area to train. Authorities reported that the swimmer was hospitalized and that surrounding waters were closed.

According to reports, the man was severely injured and had difficulty moving in the water. “He had very little ability to help himself,” Jon Edelbrock, Del Mar Lifeguard Chief, told KTLA’s Chip Yost. Edelbrock described how two other swimmers supported the victim in the water, helping him until they could get him to safety. “I think without those two assisting him, he wasn’t going to be able to move himself,” Edelbrock added.

The focus now is on identifying the type of shark involved in the attack. Initial reports from witnesses suggest it might have been a great white shark. To confirm this, the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach is investigating. Zach Merson, a field technician at the lab, mentioned that they collected DNA samples from the victim’s wetsuit. These samples will undergo testing to determine the exact species of shark involved.

Merson explained that shark attacks on humans are typically cases of mistaken identity. “We’re not a prey item for any species of shark, so in most cases, the shark will either bite out of curiosity or mistaken identity and then immediately release the person,” he said.

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This incident causes additional fears as it is similar to a shark encounter in San Clemente last month. In this case, a surfer was allegedly pushed off his board by an unknown shark. Merson, however, made note that there is no way to know if the same shark caused both events.

Despite the community’s alarm and fear, Merson emphasized that shark attacks are rare. This is evidenced by the increasing number of people and sharks in coastal waters. “The number of people in the water and the number of sharks in the water have been rising dramatically over the past few decades,” he said. “There’s been no real increase in bite rate, which says to us that the sharks and the people are learning to co-exist.”

Authorities have stated that if no further shark sightings are reported, the waters off the Del Mar beach are expected to be reopened Tuesday morning. Until then, beachgoers are advised to stay vigilant and follow safety guidelines while the investigation continues.

The community’s response has been one of concern but also of resilience. Local swimmers and beachgoers, while cautious, are generally confident in the safety measures and the quick response of the lifeguards and other emergency responders. Many are looking forward to returning to the water as soon as it is declared safe.

As the investigation continues, the findings will not only provide closure to this incident but will also contribute to the ongoing research into shark behavior and patterns. This could help both authorities and beach-goers better understand how to prevent future incidents which could ultimately ensure the safety of both swimmers and surfers.