Shark Warning After Otters Attacked Off California Coast

A record number of shark-bitten sea otters have been reported along the California coastline in the past couple of months, prompting state officials to warn of a potentially increased threat to humans.

Scientists collected 19 injured or dead otters with signs of shark bites in August, and seven more have been collected so far in September.

The majority of the animals have been found in San Luis Obispo County near Morro Bay or Pismo Beach, but others have been found in Monterey Bay or near Ano Nuevo State Park in southern San Mateo County, according to Mike Harris, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Game.

Harris said 19 otters is a record for any month in California and a clear sign of “an increase in shark activity in this area like we’ve never documented before.”

Department of Fish and Game spokeswoman Carol Singleton said white sharks, the predators believed to be responsible for the deaths, thrive in colder waters.

“Because we had a really mild summer, it’s ideal for white sharks,” she said.

Otters are not the preferred meal of the sharks, so not all of the otters attacked are killed, she added.

“We think they’re mistaking otters for what they usually eat: seals and sea lions,” Singleton said. “They’re not consuming them; they just seem to be biting them and going, ‘Oh that’s not what I like,’ and moving on.”

The sea otter population is also being affected by other problems, such as toxic algae and other contaminants, which Harris said are combining with the shark-caused deaths to create “a population-level impact” on sea otters in the state.

Because of the increased shark activity, Fish and Game officials are advising swimmers, divers, surfers and other water enthusiasts to avoid Bay Area locations known for white sharks—including Ano Nuevo, Bird Rock in the Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Farallon Islands—and to remain aware of their surroundings in the marine environment.

It’s unclear whether there are more sharks in the region or if those that are there are more active, Harris said. There is not much data on the white shark population, he said.

White shark attacks on humans are extremely rare though in California, which has had 95 attacks since 1950. Eleven of those were fatal.

The advisory “is not to discourage people from getting in the water, but we’re giving them the information so they can make their own decisions,” Harris said.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

  • MG

    Where is John Kessler

    • PD

      Time to find another morning news station, no more John…

    • Julie Hopkins

      I miss the team work of Sydney and John in the morning they were funny!!! I would watch them before I went to work, I thought John was taking care of his mother.. :o(

  • K. Carnes

    Where is John Kessler?

  • Linda Russell

    Where is John?????

    • Phil Hayward

      I miss John Kessler, bring him back !!!!!

  • Ann Kelly

    Where is John Kessler?

  • MV

    Miss John Kessler – where is he???

  • NW in San Anselmo

    Where is John Kessler? Please tell me that if he is truly gone that he exited on his own terms and not a miscalculation by KPIX management. He was THE only reason I have stuck by CBS morning news for years.

  • DT in Livermore

    Where si John Kessler???? Please tell your viewers.

  • MA

    I have the same question. Where is John Kessler? There has been no mention of him for the second week now. Did he leave the station? Please let us know.

  • eunice

    We want john back!!! the morning team is not the same without him.

  • Sheila

    Where is Anna Duckworth and John Kessler?

  • Dane Hayward

    After all the years we have watched cbs 5 , I feel that if we ask about a news person that we care for then we should be told why they are no longer with you. Without comment I feel you are not truthful and hiding something.. Should I change my TV channel?

  • PS in Lafayette

    Where is John Kessler? We miss him!!! He and Sidney are perfect together!! Please bring him back!!

  • Linda

    CBS5 – how many more comments do you need to know that we miss John and that your newscast is not the same – what did you do, I am now watching channel 7 in protest but keep going back to see if John is back, what happened, please post so we know, be honest. How stupid to let such a great fun newscaster go.

  • LJ

    Ok a little explanation would be nice for your faithfull watchers…where is John Kessler??? He and Sidney were a great team and great way to start the day…very funny! Please give us some insight on where he is?

  • JC

    I can’t believe that John Kessler is gone! He is very entertaining and I will have to change channels…………………..KPIX gets a big F

  • Margaret Thomas

    Media blogger Rich Lieberman reports that John Kessler, morning co-anchor at CBS5, will leave the station after his contract expires in mid-October.

    “I’m not in their plans,” Kessler told Lieberman. “I’m very disappointed I was not able to deliver the audience they expected from me. For those that did tune in, thank you. It’s been a great ride.”

    Before he got to KPIX in 2002, Kessler was an anchor at KRON. Before that, he was a radio disc jockey, working in Detroit, San Diego, Jacksonville and Charlotte. Kessler studied journalism at San Diego State and is the father of two boys.
    Posted by San Francisco Peninsula Press Club at 11:12 AM

  • Roxanna

    I have been wondering where John Kessler has been, and thought he was on vacation. I just learned that he is no longer with KPIX. This is Terrible!!!!! I only watched this news cast every morning because of John Kessler. He is great!!

  • Jean

    It cannot be true!!. We want John back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I guess I will go back to ABC. I use to watch ABC until John came along. John and Sydnie were great together.

  • Dianne

    We no longer watch your morning news, you have lost a real asset when you let John leave. It really makes you wonder about the powers that be.
    I’m sure John will be successful where ever he goes but sadly it’s not on your channel. You have lost a great number of viewers and only have yourselves to blame!

  • Laura

    What John Kessler gone…just like that? I will switch to another news channel now. Maybe another local channel will pick him up, he was the reason we watched the channel 5 news in the morning. Gee…….Blowed him up!


    I Want John Kessler Back, PLEASE.

  • Judy

    I’m with the other viewers. John was the ONLY reason I watched the morning news, all we ever see is negative news, he is a great news anchor, gave us the news AND he gave us something to smile about as we started our day. Good bye Channel 5 News I’ll find my information somewhere else!!

    • Judy

      I totally agree with you. jJohn Kessler was awesome, wheres John?

  • Judy

    Thank You, I just got more information from you than Channel 5 seems to be providing

    • Lynn

      As a consumer of your product, (news) I will also find another station to watch……

  • M.G.

    I sure hope that CBS5 is reading these posts. JOHN and SIDNEY were the only reason to watch CBS5 in the morning. Now it’s the MOURNING in the MORNING. They should have given JOHN and SIDNEY their own show in the afternoon like the ANN and Ross years ago

  • B. Todaro

    Speaking for myself, my friends, my coworkers, my Grandma and the rest of my family, we cannot believe you did not renew John’s contract and just let him go. We all look forward every morning to seeing John and Sidney together creating their morning news magic and starting the day off in an upbeat and positive way. It is not the same now. It is dreary and hum-drum without the newscasts dynamic duo. We wish you would reconsider so we don’t have to continue with news elsewhere……

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