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Local Beach Back Open After Weekend Shark Sighting

Hard Closure of Leadbetter Beach Over; 72 Hour Warning Remains in Place

Great White Shark Sighting Prompts Closure of Local Beach

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara is back open Monday morning after a great white shark was spotted on Sunday. The beach reopened at 10 a.m.

The Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol says at least 7 people reported seeing an 8 to 10 foot great white shark chasing after a sea lion inside swim buoys on Sunday.

After interviewing two of the witnesses, a local surfer and fisherman, Harbor Patrol closed the beach. 

Harbor Patrol Officer Ryan Kelly, said, "There are a series of questions we go through and ask. One of the things that they described which deemed it as more credible is describing the fin and the pattern in which the shark was swimming. It was a side to side motion versus an up and down one like you'd see in a dolphin."

Local swimmer Ross Adams was already in the water for his weekly swim and missed the warning signs.

Adams said, "We always swim here on Sunday afternoons. We were on our way out to the first buoy ready to make our turn up the beach and we saw the lifeguard paddling out behind us.  He said, 'you guys probably didn't see the sign but we've had a great white sighting and we're closing the water for 24 hours'."  

After hearing that, Adams immediately exited the water.

Some swimmers, paddleboarders and kayakers didn't heed the warning. The lifeguard was going in and out of the water trying to coax them back to shore.

Kelly said, "It's at your own risk. They do their best to keep everyone out of the water. If there was actually a shark feeding in that area, it would make sense to stay out of that area for a 24 hour period."

Kelly says there were about two dozen shark sightings from Leadbetter to East Beach in 2013. About only half of those were deemed credible.  The last sighting was around Labor Day of 2013.

Paddleboarder Brett Machard says sharks come with the territory.  He said, "I think that's a chance we all take every time we go out there."

A 24 hour hard closure of Leadbetter Beach was in effect until Monday morning. The 72 hour warning is still in place from the One Thousand Steps, all the way to the East Beach Bathhouse.

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