After fatal attack on surfer, one great white shark grabs spotlight

·3 min read

After a shark killed a bodyboarder on Christmas Eve off Morro Bay, Ca., a prominent researcher could not say whether one of the great white sharks tagged by his group was involved.

“I’ve gotten a lot of messages because of the unfortunate fatal shark encounter at The Pit (Morro Bay),” Michael Domeier, president of the Marine Conservation Science Institute, stated on Instagram. “A male bodyboarder was bitten and he succumbed to the injuries. First, my heart goes out to the family and friends of the victim.

“Second, no I don’t know if the shark was Poe Girl, or any of our other tagged sharks. The probability of it being one of our sharks is very low, since we’ve tagged such a small percentage of the overall population.”

The victim, a 31-year-old man, has not been officially identified.

Poe Girl, an adult female white shark measuring 17-plus feet, was tagged off Point Conception for MCSI by Keith Poe on Nov. 23, 2017.

On Christmas Day, Poe Girl pinged a position 24 miles south of Morro Bay. Domeier acknowledged to FTW Outdoors that “she could have easily been in Morro Bay that day, but that’s all one can say about it. There are so many other white sharks around, there’s no way to say it was her.”

ALSO ON FTW OUTDOORS: Lonely Yellowstone wolf cries out in surreal dawn encounter

MCSI-tagged sharks can be tracked by the public via an app, but a shark has to surface under the right conditions to reveal a new position.

Since Poe Girl was tagged she has traveled extensively to the west and south, even inside Mexico’s Gulf of California, or Sea of Cortez. Understandably, she’s often detected closer to Central California home waters, where she and other white sharks prey seasonally on elephant seals.

In mid-November, Poe Girl was positioned beyond Surf Beach at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, south of Morro Bay.

Fatal shark encounters occurred at Surf Beach almost exactly two years apart in October 2010 and 2012. A nonfatal bite, also attributed to a white shark, occurred in 2014. (Surf Beach is accessible to the public.)

In October, Poe Girl was positioned off El Capitan State Beach near Santa Barbara.

“She is not your everyday Southern California juvenile; she’s a massive adult that you should avoid,” Domeier cautioned surfers at the time, via Instagram.

Poe told FTW Outdoors that on a tagging expedition to Point Conception last month, “I had white sharks at my boat hundreds of times. There are so many, it’s incredible.”

So there’s nothing that implicates Poe Girl in the Christmas Eve attack (or any other), besides the fact that she was in the general vicinity at the time.

Her presence might be unnerving, but most surfers are aware that they share the ocean with untagged sharks, too, and accept the extremely low risk of being bitten every time they paddle out.

–Top image shows Morro Rock