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Killer shark was probably great white

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POSTED October 24, 2012 9:01 p.m.


 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An expert has determined that a surfer was killed off California's Central Coast by a 15- to 16-foot great white shark.

Ralph Collier of the Shark Research Committee examined the body of 39-year-old Francisco Javier Solorio Jr. of Orcutt before making the determination Wednesday.

The surfer was bitten in the upper torso in the waters off Surf Beach in Santa Barbara County on Tuesday. He died at the scene despite a friend's efforts to save him.

"His friend ended up swimming over and pulling him from the water where he received first aid," sheriff's Sgt. Mark A. Williams said.

Friends said Solorio had ridden the waves there since he was a boy.

"He was a really good surfer," friend Nathan Winkles told KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara.

The beach, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, also was the site of an October 2010 fatal attack.

Lucas Ransom, a 19-year-old student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, died when a shark nearly severed his leg as he body-boarded.

Surf Beach is near Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Air Force said Solorio was not affiliated with the base, which allows public access to some of its beaches.

All beaches on the base's coastline were closed for at least 72 hours as a precaution, Col. Nina Armagno said.

Great white sharks are found from tropical to polar regions and are not uncommon up and down the California coast, experts said.

However, they do not attack humans as a rule, experts said.

"If white sharks were going to target humans for prey, I would never talk to any survivors," Collier said. "Because there's no way you or I could ever survive an attack by a 17-foot shark that weighs 4,000 pounds."

There have been nearly 100 shark attacks in California since the 1920s, including a dozen that were fatal, according to the California Department of Fish and Game. But attacks have remained relatively rare even as the population of swimmers, divers and surfers sharing the waters has soared.

 

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