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Experts weigh-in on shark behavior after great white shark attack at Lovers Point

PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. (KION-TV)– The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating the shark attack that happened at Lovers Point Beach.

Natividad hospital confirmed with KION that DNA samples taken from shark bike victim Steve Bruemmer were that of a great white shark.

A Facebook group known as the harbor seals of Pacific Grove posted a seal that was bitten some two weeks ago by a shark. It's unclear if the incidents are connected.

READ MORE: Pacific Grove shark bite survivor releases statement

Authorities said there was no way of knowing there would be danger in the water.

A sign posted at Lovers Point Beach prevented people from going to the water. Barbara Block, a Stanford University Professor, studies tuna and sharks. Block said shark attacks in Monterey are rare but are present in Monterey waters.

“We have to keep in mind that we live in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary,” said Block. “This is one of the wildest places on the planet. In the Monterey Bay, we have a lot of animals here that come here to forage.”

According to Fish and Wildlife, this is the 16th shark incident since 1950 in Monterey County, and all but three of those resulted in injury.

Block said that certain sea animals make their way to Monterey Bay at a certain of the year, but larger white sharks appear later in the year.

“Usually the white sharks that are involved with an attack would be our larger white sharks feeding on mammals,” said Block. “They arrive in September, October, or November. The fact we had an incident in the summer suggests it might one of our teenage sharks.”

Block said Monterey Bay has an abundance of fish life that draws in mammals, like sea lions, harbor seals, and elephant seals. The adult and sub-adult white sharks then attack those mammals that are going out into the water.

“We get lots of anchovies or sardines, right now it's anchovies that then bring in sea lions,” said Block, “who like to feed on the anchovies or tuna. At the same time, the white sharks are searching around looking to get in contact with pinnipeds.”

Both Block and Fish and Life said it's rare for sharks to interact with humans. The incident a Lovers Point is the second shark incident this year, the first happened in San Miguel in San Luis Obispo County.

“When we enter the water we need to know there is some risk that are sharks around,” said Block. “There aren't that many but there is enough to be potentially dangerous. We have to keep in mind where are we swimming and if we're in a place that could be considered a foraging zone.”

Block said at Hopkins Marine Station they keep track of tagged white sharks that come by. They also study how long the white sharks stay in the region. Block adds when they tag white sharks, they’re in the Monterey Bay for half the year, mostly in the fall and winter. Block also said that younger cohorts of sharks from Southern California are coming into the Monterey Bay and are feeding on fish.

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Ana Torrea

Weekend Anchor/Reporter for KION News Channel 5/46

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