A swimmer remains missing following a reported shark attack off a popular beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore. On Monday morning, officials suspended the search.
“We didn’t find the individual so there’s no way for us to confirm whether or not it was a shark attack,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Hunter Schnabel.
The incident occurred at 10:40 a.m. on Sunday, October 1st, when witnesses reported a shark bit a man who was swimming off Wildcat Beach. The shark reportedly pulled the swimmer underwater. The missing swimmer is believed to be in his 50s.
Witnesses at the scene, which included other swimmers in the vicinity, reported the presence of “a large pool of blood in the water,” as told to KPIX. At the time of the attack, three men were swimming approximately 25 to 50 yards offshore.
Search continues for missing swimmer off Wildcat Beach. The 52 yr old male was swimming with two friends. Witness reports seeing a shark but an attack is still unconfirmed. Ground & water search efforts cont w/ local agency support. https://t.co/vfNettwdyD pic.twitter.com/QvoUdZZsFK— Point Reyes NPS (@PointReyesNPS) October 2, 2023
The circumstances surrounding this incident are far from typical, adding complexity to the search efforts.
“This is not your typical attack that we’ve heard of,” said Ben Ghisletta, senior fire captain with the Marin County Fire Department. “It does create some complications when you can’t find someone in the water.”
Wildcat Beach is part of Northern California’s Red Triangle, the stretch of coastline from Sonoma to Monterey Bay that accounts for nearly 40 percent of all great white shark attacks in the United States. The area is a favorite for great white shark due to its dense populations of marine mammals, the shark’s favorite food group. When the Marine Mammal Act of 1972 ended the slaughter of seals, marine biologists have noticed an increase in Red Triangle shark populations, due to the protected all-you-can-eat buffet of marine mammals in the area. The predators have been protected in California waters ever since 1994.