Posted: 6:29 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013

Expert says shark photographed in SF Bay could be great white

shark photographed in SF Bay
Alex Lyons
shark photographed in SF Bay

KTVU.com and wires

SAN FRANCISCO —

Bay Area marine biologists were puzzling Wednesday over a recent photo of what could be a great white shark on a rare excursion into San Francisco Bay.

The picture that proves the unusual sighting was taken by Alex Lyons near San Francisco's Marina Green Tuesday. It shows the dorsal fin of a four-foot juvenile shark just off the beach near Crissy Field.

While it is the time of year for great white sharks to be spotted off the golden gate, sightings actually in the bay are quite rare.

KTVU spoke with a family visiting from Italy that was surprised to hear of the sighting.

"I kept telling my daughter 'There are no sharks! Don't worry!'" said Paola Masera of Turin. "Now you tell me there is one."

In fact, there are numerous sharks that call San Francisco Bay home. The Aquarium of the Bay exhibits seven-gill, leopard and many other species that live here.

In the open ocean, great whites have a fearsome reputation even though human bites are accidental.

Aquarium of the Bay Curator Keith Herbert couldn't confirm that the photographed shark was a great white, but he did say that such sightings in the bay were not typical.

"Occasionally, they may venture in underneath the bridge. But it's not at all common," explained Herbert.

Herbert told KTVU the photo might be a great white or the closely related salmon shark.

"Those two species can be very similar in appearance," said Herbert. "Especially [when] the animal's underwater."

Less well known than their bigger cousins, salmon sharks are pupping off the coast right now.

"Obviously, they like salmon and they like a lot of different types of fish that would be found here in the bay," said Herbert.

No salmon shark has ever been linked to a human bite and great white attacks are rare. Experts say you're safe from sharks in and on the bay waters and that you're far more likely to be hurt sail boat racing.

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