SOLANA BEACH, Calif. - Authorities kept watch yesterday over a stretch of Southern California beaches, scanning the waters for a shark they believe killed a triathlete a day earlier.
While authorities advised against going in the ocean from north San Diego to Carlsbad, they said they expect to see people heading into the water to escape the region's summery temperatures.
"We're not going to make any arrests or anything" if people go into the water, "but we'll go talk to them," said David Ott, Solana Beach's public safety director.
Helicopters kept searching for signs of the shark that killed triathlete David Martin, Solana Beach lifeguard captain Craig Miller said.
Martin, 66, died on the beach Friday morning after a shark, presumed to be a great white, lifted him out of the water with his legs in its jaws, leaving deep lacerations and shredding Martin's black wetsuit.
Martin, a retired veterinarian, was the first shark fatality in San Diego County since 1994. Prior to that, the last known fatal attack in the area was in 1959.
Even die-hards said word of the attack gave them pause.
"I just got the chills," said Tom Halmos, 36, a regular surfer who biked down to the cove after the attack. "I'm definitely going to go back out but I think the heart rate will be up the first time I do, that's for sure."
Halmos said he planned to stay on dry land for at least the next few days.
"There will be a million beautiful weekends - what's one less?" he asked.
Specialists said the likelihood of finding the shark that attacked Martin was slim.
Sharks are rare in the water off Southern California, though female great white sharks sometimes come south from their usual territory in the cooler waters of the central and northern coast to pup. Few make the mistake of attacking humans instead of seals or sea lions, their usual prey.
"It's just very bad luck for that one man," said Richard Rosenblatt, a professor emeritus of marine biology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.
Rosenblatt said he believed the bite pattern on Martin's legs indicated the shark was almost certainly a great white that may have been 12 feet to 17 feet long. The sharks can weigh up to 5,000 pounds, according to National Geographic.