POINT REYES, Calif. - We still don't know the fate or identity of a swimmer who went missing Sunday morning. His two swimming partners say they saw him attacked by a shark. The shark attack is unconfirmed.
Almost 22 hours after the Coast Guard received a call that a swimmer, apparently attacked by a shark, had gone missing, have called of their search at sea.
By mid-morning Sunday, the Coast Guard said it got an urgent call about a possible shark attack on Marin's Wildcat beach about nine miles north of Stinson Beach.
The Coast Guard, air and sea, along with the National Park Service, Stinson Beach Fire Rescue as well as Marin County Sheriff and Fire all responded to the very remote area, served only by trails, where the incident occurred. "In my time here, we haven't heard of anything like this happening. Yesterday was definitely a crazy day here at the ranch. Many more Park Rangers than normal, flashing lights, a certain degree of chaos all day long," said Fiona Ulrich of the Five Brooks Horse Ranch.
The Coast Guard officially ended its search at 8 a.m. Monday while other searchers remained behind to see if they could find anything, including remains, along the shore. That search ended an hour later. The victim's identity has not yet been released since there is nobody to be identified and next of kin would be notified first.
Worldwide, even in shark-rich Northern California, this is truly a rare event: 50 times less likely than getting hit by lightning. "Fatalities are very rare and injuries also rare, but it is something that we people that are in the water on any regular basis think about and consider," said Sean van Sommeran, a founder of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation. "We do have a variety of sea life that the sharks really like to feed on, come around for, and so, caution is our best friend in that sense," said Ulrich.
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In fact, says Sommreran, there are plenty of other dangers, far more likely to hurt or kill people along the rugged coastline. Many more people are injured by bonking their heads on rocks and hitting their surfboard of swimming and getting tired. There's all kinds of risks out there," said Sommeran.
So, whether you're hiking or camping or swimming or surfing or diving in remote places, you have to remember that first responders are often very far away and you're pretty much on your own.