SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A recent shark encounter off the Southern California coast had a kayaker fending off an aggressive hammerhead shark.
Mark McCracken, 33, was fishing a half-mile off the shore of Santa Barbara at Gaviota State Beach on Saturday when the shark started circling him. He used his oar in an attempt to move the shark away from knocking into his kayak. The hammerhead did not back down and continued to circle him for the next 15 minutes.
“I was trolling for bonito yesterday when out of nowhere this tweaked out hammerhead started ramming and biting my kayak,” McCracken posted.
McCracken continued fighting it off as he bee-lined it back to shore.
“I had to hit him over 20 times before he finally gave me some space but still stalked me for a half mile all the way back to shore,” he said. “Even after I was on shore, he paced back and forth in about 3 feet of water like he was just waiting for me to come back out. Pretty bizarre and crazy experience to say the least.”
Video of the encounter was captured by a GoPro mounted to the McCracken’s head.
Since late August, other kayakers fishing along Southern California have taken video of hammerhead sharks. The first reported sighting caused San Diego lifeguards to close the beach on August 30.
Hammerhead sharks are rarely seen near the shore, Lt. Andy Lerum of San Diego Lifeguards said. However, warm weather and currents from the south made San Diego waters warmer than usual.