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GW feeding on a seal in SF bay

Posted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:11 pm
by Kalif

Not sure where to post this, so I picked this part of forum.

This is the first time that an actual feeding was filmed inside the SF bay. It was thought that the low salinity prevents them from staying inside the bay too long, even though they have been seen there before.

Also, this year the water is warmer due to el nino, so that might be the case too.

(This is a different link and should work. The first one I posted had a zoom in and shows as private on youtube)

Not intended to deter anybody from kayaking, but it doesn't hurt to know they are out there.


Re: GW feeding on a seal in SF bay

Posted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:01 pm
by DLee
Yikes. That's one of the few things that really bothers me about the folding boats. That rubber could look and possibly feel an awful lot like a bit tasty seal. No paddle races around Alcatraz for a while.


Re: GW feeding on a seal in SF bay

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 5:11 pm
by ChrisO
Yes, sharks are certainly a concern here amongst sea kayakers. It regularly comes up in discussions in BASK (Bay Area Sea Kayakers).
Our area has a lot of prey the great whites favor: Harbor seals and sea lions in San Francisco Bay and along the coast, plus elephant seals at places like Point Reyes and Ano Nuevo. Yet sightings of great whites along the coast are rare. Most sightings are around the Farallon Islands. There is even an outfit or two which offer shark dive tours there.
An actual shark attack on a kayak here is an extremely rare event.
The consensus seems to be that when a kayak was attacked, it happened by a relatively inexperienced young shark mistaking a kayak for a seal etc. when they charge from below. We certainly do NOT have any regular attacks!
Yes, it is a risk, but a very small one.
It does not stop me from kayaking on the Bay or along the coast. No, I am not careless. I have simply never seen any shark activity when and where I paddle. However, I do stay away from seal etc haul-outs and rookeries. No use tempting fate...
Some of the things which have been suggested to deter a possible attack: Paddle longer kayaks which look less like a seal silhouette, hull paint schemes mimicking orca's or striped patterns, and only paddling in groups (which is what I do along the coast).
BTW, I spent a week last month paddling the Mendocino coast with BASK. Seriously fun rock gardening and some rough water. Absolutely spectacular and thrilling! Not a shark in sight.

Chris O.

Re: GW feeding on a seal in SF bay

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 6:07 pm
by Kalif
Yeah, we have them here. The red triangle that goes from Farallones to Bodega bay and down to Ano Nuevo is where they hang out a lot and now in Sept/Oct they are especially active.

The reason you don't see them is the fact that they like surprise attacks (from below) unlike tigers which are surface animals and like to cruise with their pectoral fin out. You won't see it, but you'll definitely 'feel' it if it decides to strike.

Yes, there is a theory that the longer the kayak, the less likely it is to confuse it with a seal or sea lion, but there was an attack on a 17.5 CLC plywood kit kayak in SoCal a few years back and the paddler was a few miles offshore. I suppose if you go as long as 20+ ft. like in some doubles, then it is less likely. On the other hand, there have been cases (near tomales point I think) where a GW 'attacked' a propeller on a fishing boat. I mean, if I weighed 3 tons, would I really care if a slim kayak is 13 or 17 ft. long :-)))

I guess, I'll leave decision-making to the shark and take a few precautions, especially because I paddle inflatables :-)) I can't even imagine the kind of repair, I'd have to do.

It is true that attacks on kayaks are rare and that kayak fishermen get attacked more often but we do live in a unique area of the world when it comes to the top ocean predator.

Here are a few sources for recent shark activities:

This is a website that tracks all the reports (some are unverified as many surfers mistake sea lions and sharks) on the left coast: ... k_news.htm

In July this year there was an unusual large gathering of GWs near the 'Cement Ship' beach south of SC. Nobody was attacked but they cancelled a life guard swim competition. There were quite a few big ones within a small area:

This happened this Sept. near S. Barbara: ... t/35494364

This one happened a few year back in Capitola, quite close to the pier, I think: ... sure-point

Interesting that hammerheads are more aggressive, although smaller: ... m-kayaker/

I read somewhere that these devices are popular in Australia and can be towed behind a kayak:

Re: GW feeding on a seal in SF bay

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 9:12 pm
by DLee
That Sharkshield is expensive... but I guess if you're in a neighborhood where the big guys might be present... it could be worth it.

I wonder if the Inuit had issues with sharks while seal fishing from their skin on frame boats? The idea of a shark attack in a plastic kayak is one thing. Getting hit in a folder or inflatable is much less entertaining a thought.

Chris did you take a folder or your Coaster out rock gardening? I'm going to guess the Coaster...


Re: GW feeding on a seal in SF bay

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:16 pm
by ChrisO
Actually went there with three kayaks... Coaster, P&H Hammer and the Klepper T67.
Coaster for exploring, Hammer for bumping into and over rocks and T67 for the tidal rivers.
I ended up not using the T67 since all water was salt (T67 is my museum piece, to be used in fresh water!).
I primarily used the rotomolded Hammer. Built like a tank, absolutely rock steady in the rough stuff. Turns on a dime. But in flat water, it feels like piloting an ice breaker. Not an all-round kayak, but perfect for rock gardening and very good in surf.
Used the Coaster for exploring the coves and rivers, but stayed away from rocks. If I would have surfed, I would have gone in the Coaster. That thing loves surfing big waves!
We had a couple of days with some big conditions with the requisite wipe-outs. Glad that I had the Hammer. Everyone wore dry or wet suits, helmets etc. and had the required skills.
But a folder in those conditions? Sure, if properly equipped with deck lines, float bags and implosion "proof" spray skirt. I intend to set up my Pionier 450 S for that at some time (part of the new skin project...). I feel it is a good candidate: Buoyant bow, stiff and strong frame, and it is easy to brace your knees against the underside of the deck. We had a paddler in a short (14ft or so) SOF baidarka, no problems.

But back to sharks. My Hammer is likely the least "digestible" kayak I have, but I don't think that I will ever find out.
Yes, I have been concerned about possible shark attacks on kayaks around here for some time. Especially since we have an increasing seal etc population which in turn attracts the great whites. You would expect a commensurate increase in attacks on kayaks, just due to proximity to both sharks and seals. It just has not happened.
Is a shark attack a risk? Absolutely, but I feel only remotely.
In the big picture it is one of the risks you face living in Northern California, right along with earthquakes, wild fires and mountain lion attacks. Living here, you evaluate those risks and have to decide if they are acceptable.
In the end you have to decide for yourself which paddling risks are acceptable and how you can manage them. No, I am NOT trying to talk anyone into ignoring the risks! It is YOUR life.

A note on shark deterrents: Most of the research has been done in Australia and has focused on surfers and divers. I would not assume that the findings are automatically valid for either our West Coast or kayakers. I have considered the SAMS deterrent pattern for the bottom of my Coaster, but have not yet found any supporting research done on the California coast. One concern voiced to me about just "trying" them out, is that the deterrent might actually attract a curious shark...

Chris O.

Re: GW feeding on a seal in SF bay

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:59 pm
by chrstjrn
The video can't be viewed-- marked as "private". Not the place to dangle one's hands in the water...

Re: GW feeding on a seal in SF bay

Posted: Sat Oct 17, 2015 1:42 am
by Kalif

I just realized it is 'private' on youtube.

This one should work:

But the first one had a nice zoom in capturing the breach. Pretty awesome.

Re: GW feeding on a seal in SF bay

Posted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:14 pm
by ChrisO
And, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, news of a pod of 20 (Yes, TWENTY!) great whites cruising of San Francisco and Pacifica (just south of SF): ... 587610.php

Still, no attacks on kayakers!
But, it gives me pause. I do NOT want to tempt fate!

Chris O.

Re: GW feeding on a seal in SF bay

Posted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:26 pm
by gbellware
That is nuts. I did the Alcatraz swim a few years ago, where you jump off a ferry...yes, the same ferry from which the tourist filmed the attack, at the same place next to Alcatraz, and then swim the 1.5 miles back to San Francisco. There is no brag in that, just an admission of lunacy and promise to never do it again.

On a similar note, I had a close encounter with a tiger shark in the Florida Keys last week. She/he was curious and stayed with me for 5 minutes or so, but I really did not have any worry about being attacked. I was in a huge black-bottomed Klepper Quattro double, and I think the shark was just intrigued. But it was the closest I have ever been to one in the wild. Magnificent.

And I know I have posted this link before, but it is still relevant. ... -1.1389378

Be careful out there, and that means being smart, which the woman in the story was not.


Re: GW feeding on a seal in SF bay

Posted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:18 pm
by ChrisO
What is even more nuts are indications that people are still out there chumming for great whites to get their Go Pro or "scientific research" fix...
I say indications, since I have received a number of accounts today from fellow paddlers, but no verification or proof.
Yes, it is illegal to chum for great whites here...
Kayak fishing might be another really bad idea in the "Red Triangle".

Chris O.