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.)

Comments (48)
  1. MG says:

    Where is John Kessler

    1. PD says:

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

    2. Julie Hopkins says:

      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(

  2. K. Carnes says:

    Where is John Kessler?

  3. Linda Russell says:

    Where is John?????

    1. Phil Hayward says:

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

  4. Ann Kelly says:

    Where is John Kessler?

  5. MV says:

    Miss John Kessler – where is he???

  6. NW in San Anselmo says:

    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.

  7. DT in Livermore says:

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

  8. MA says:

    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.

  9. eunice says:

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

  10. Sheila says:

    Where is Anna Duckworth and John Kessler?

  11. Dane Hayward says:

    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?

  12. PS in Lafayette says:

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

  13. Linda says:

    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.

  14. LJ says:

    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?

  15. JC says:

    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

  16. Margaret Thomas says:

    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

  17. Roxanna says:

    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!!

  18. Jean says:

    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.

  19. Dianne says:

    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!

  20. Laura says:

    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!

  21. DARLENE HICKS says:

    I Want John Kessler Back, PLEASE.

  22. Judy says:

    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!!

    1. Judy says:

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

  23. Judy says:

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

    1. Lynn says:

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

  24. M.G. says:

    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

  25. B. Todaro says:

    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……

  26. Christina says:

    With the exit of John K. there is now no reason to watch CBS5. Goodbye.

  27. steve says:

    i am with the everybody else no reseason to watch with out john going back to abc

  28. lori says:

    No John No CBS 5 in our house- Sydnie and him were a great TEAM AND MADE THE MORNING NEWS FUN another veiwer gone

    1. Jen says:

      Thank you for the contact info. I just sent them my expression of disappointment!

  29. s says:

    You had a good thing going. No John… Now none has a good thing going. Your news is trite at best and your hosts give me no reason to continue to watch. Bad choices. Money numbers are not all they are cracked up to be!

  30. barefootgranny says:

    John Kessler was my cup of coffee in the mornings. I was up at 5am to leave by six for an hour commute. My day was not the same without his hun=mor. I will be watching something else from now on. BIG Mistake KPIX!

  31. barefootgranny says:

    The only other person watching is Tracy Humphrey

  32. Donna says:

    John Kessler is missed!! He made the news a lot more bearable. His quick wit and the banter between him and Sidney made me smile. Now I turn the channel. It doesn’t seem like a happy place anymore.

  33. Gina says:

    Bring back John Kessler to anchor the morning news with Sydnie Kohara. He was wonderful and had a great sense of humor and made the news much more bearable. He & Sydnie were the best together!!! Why wouldn’t you renew his contract???????? Bring him back like you did years ago when the same mistake was made!!!

  34. gary says:

    I hope Channel 5 is happy. I am changing stations. I was just hoping that John was on vacation but not the case. LATER

  35. Terri says:

    No John Kessler? Then I guess I won’t be watching your station. John was the ONLY reason I tuned in. I’ll check out another news station or maybe just read the news on Yahoo. That gives me more time for Urkel reruns in the morning.

  36. BKatB says:

    I miss John Kessler. Seeing him, and Sydney together was the reason I tuned in every morning. It’s just not the same. Please bring him back!

  37. Janet says:

    I want John Kessler back NOW!!! John Kessler made the news. My husband and I set the T.V. as our alarm clock in the morning to KPIX channel 5 Just to hear John and Sydney. It’s Just not the same anymore. Please bring in John Kessler back.

  38. Dee says:

    Why the mystery and sudden departure? We miss John

  39. Sharon says:

    Please give us all an explaination of why John Kessler is no longer on the news.
    I miss his funny wise cracks and his interactions with the others – where did he go???

  40. Catherine says:

    How are CBS’s morning ratings now that John Kessler is gone? Was it worth it, getting rid of a popular newscaster, having droves of viewers change their allegiance and the station being forced to exercise damage control as a result? Do the people in CBS management lose their jobs for poor performance after making such bad decisions? iJohn and Sydnie, the best duo on morning TV, hope they re-appear somewhere in the future and not on CBS, as this station doesn’t deserve their talent.

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