Shark 'bump' prompts Huntington Beach ocean closure

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Huntington Beach lifeguards ordered beachgoers out of the water from Beach Boulevard to the Pier after a shark bumped into a surfer on Friday.

It was the first time in history lifeguards have closed part of the ocean because of a shark encounter.

U.S. Coast Guard helicopters circled the area after a surfer told lifeguards a great white shark bumped him this morning.

"A bump like that is classified as an aggressive behavior by a shark. Based on that, we had to close the water in the area one mile each way," said Lt. Claude Panis with Huntington Beach Fire Department Marine Safety.

Marine safety officers plan to take every precaution, but don't want people to be scared of the ocean.

New research finds shark attacks are 90 percent less likely in California now than they were in the 1950s. That's despite the fact there are hundreds of thousands more people in the water now, than there were back then.

Experts say the decline in attacks is likely the result of surging populations of sharks' prey, such as sea lions and elephant seals.

Researchers note there might also be fewer sharks in the water, but their populations are hard to track so that's unclear.
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