Shark May Pose Problem to Surfers on N. Oregon Coast

Published 09/10/2015 at 8:04 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Seaside, Oregon) – There appears to be a shark wandering the waters of the north Oregon coast, and officials say it could be a problem for surfers. (Photos by Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium - Warning: images are slightly graphic).

Over the last few weeks, crews from the Northern Oregon/Southern Washington Marine Mammal Stranding Network have responded to four different incidents of sea creatures found on the beach with large, gaping bite marks in their flesh – apparently the work of a shark.

Tiffany Boothe, education specialist at the Seaside Aquarium, said examinations were done by network scientists.

“The bites are thought to be from either a great white or a seven gill shark,” Boothe said.

Consequently, the network wants to caution surfers about the area. Sharks normally go for weakened animals, but they sometimes do not know the difference between a surfboard and their usual prey.

The general public is in no danger while wading in the breakers, but Boothe cautioned surfers that hitting the waters at dusk or dawn, when light is dimmer, could be exposed to extra risks. She also said if you see a large diatom bloom in the water this could make the waters murkier and hide the presence of a shark.

Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, suggested surfers should just stay out of the water with all this activity, even though it has only killed animals like seals and dolphins.

“We've seen so many shark bites in so short a time period, that if you're thinking about taking up surfing, right now may not be the best time,” Chandler said.

The bite marks are large. Chandler said they are about a foot in length.

So far, the network has discovered two adult harbor seals, one adult Steller sea lion, and a seven-foot striped dolphin in places near Seaside. The farthest north was at the wreck of the Peter Iredale, while others were found at Gearhart and Sunset Beach.

Chandler and Boothe said all were believed to have been chomped on close to shore. While the Stellar sea lion had been dead awhile, the seals were fairly fresh kills. Chandler added the striped dolphin was still clinging to life in the surf when found, but was finally killed by sand in its lungs.

More of Boothe's photos below (warning, they are graphic).


Below: more photos of Gearhart and the Iredale area:



 


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