Santa Barbara- S County

Carpinteria surf camps playing it safe after shark sightings

Shark sightings in Carpinteria

Carpinteria, Calif. - Surf camp instructors are keeping a close eye on the the water after recent shark sightings at Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria. 

"We have a bunch of kids here. We're in charge of them and it's our job to make sure they are safe," said Ocean Adventures instructor Dylan Kitao.

This week, part of Kitao's job was to scan the waters for sharks on a paddleboard. On Friday, Kitao spotted what he believed was a juvenile great white outside of the surf line. He described it as five feet long, with a "decent girth."

"Just a little baby, it was cruising," Kitao said. "I followed it for five minutes to make sure it wasn't coming in."

Surf students from Ocean Adventures took a break from the water, after Kitao alerted Camp Director Ryland Chase. "We first started seeing a few of them last year and are seeing more this year." Chase said.

Chase and Kitao alerted the Surf Happens surf school, located just down the beach. Instructors also decided to pull their young surfers from the water.

Instructors said they are open and honest with the kids with the intention of striking right balance between safety, education and respect for the ocean.  

"It's a beautiful place. It's a magical place. These are mythical animals that have been around longer than us," said Cris Keet, owner of Surf Happens. "The fact that we haven't seen them for so many years, then all the sudden we see them, many people think that's a wonderful thing and they haven't been aggressive thus far."

Keet said a surfer spotted what he thought was a four or five foot juvenile great white on Wednesday. So, Keet decided to keep his kids occupied on the sand with beach games and fun activities. Keet said he's been running his surf camp at Santa Claus Lane for 17 years, and hadn't seen any sharks in the water until last year.

Ocean Adventures and Surf Happens will continue to work together and report any shark activity.

Instructors said safety is their first priority, but they also used the sightings as an opportunity to talk to their students about shark biology and a healthy marine environment. 

"Sharks are not trying to eat people. They aren't here to attack," Kitao said. "This is their home. This is the ocean and we share that. We have to respect that."


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