Series of shark sightings along Santa Cruz Co. coast prompts warnings

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - A series of shark sightings are happening near the Bay Area coastline and it’s prompting warnings ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

Several great white sharks have been spotted along the Santa Cruz County coast.

Giancarlo Thomae captured an encounter with a great white shark that may be too close for comfort for some.

The marine biologist paddled out a mile from the shore of New Brighton State Beach on Wednesday afternoon. He said four sharks began circling his kayak and one of the sharks swam underneath his kayak.

“It was pretty gnarly,” said Thomae. “I’m not going to lie but the scariest part for me was I was hoping my camera wouldn't get wet.”

Thomae's encounter is the latest in a series of shark sightings near Santa Cruz. At one point 15 sharks said to be great whites because of their body shape and color were spotted at Seacliff State Beach in Aptos.

“We’ve been getting consistent sightings just off shore and a few hundred yards off shore as well,” said California State Lifeguard Supervisor Eddie Rhee-Pizano.

State park officials have posted warning signs along a two mile stretch off the coast.

"Here in Capitola and Aptos,” said Carla Focaracci of Gilroy. “I’m like oh my God, scary.”

The sightings come as a shark attacked a swimmer in North Carolina. The Carolinas reportedly have had 10 attacks this year where some victims lost arms. Experts said those sharks are bull sharks and more aggressive than great whites.

“These little sharks out here they are mostly fish eaters,” said David Ebert of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. “They are not likely to go after marine mammals, seals, dolphins or people.”

Ebert who's studied sharks for 35 years points to El Nino and said these eight to 12 foot juveniles are typical in Southern California and are heading north to bask in warmer waters.

“We just followed it along the pier and videoed it,” said Julie Oliveri of Campbell. “It was very peaceful not the Jaws experience like you would think.”