Californians head to the coast but keep eye out for sharks - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Californians head to the coast but keep eye out for sharks

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Posted: Monday, April 28, 2008 12:43 am | Updated: 10:18 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

SOLANA BEACH, Calif. - Beachgoers looking to escape triple-digit temperatures inland stayed cautiously along the water's edge on Sunday as miles of sea front remained closed following a deadly shark attack near San Diego.

Parents kept close watch over their bodyboarding or wading children, looking up with alarm at pods of dolphins whose fins broke the glassy water beyond the surf.

There was no sign of the shark, believed to be a great white about 15 feet long, that killed triathlete David Martin on Friday. Coast Guard and San Diego County sheriff's helicopters continued to patrol the coastline, watching for signs of trouble.

Seventeen miles of coastline - from Torrey Pines State Beach to south Carlsbad - that closed for the weekend were expected to reopen Monday morning. Beaches farther north were crowded as inland temperatures soared.

A few intrepid surfers continued to ignore the shark advisory.

Dan Latour of San Diego said he didn't think twice about fleeing stifling heat to practice his skimboarding technique at Tide Beach, where Martin was taken to shore Friday.

"It was just so hot so we decided to come out here," said Latour, 30.

His friend Debra Oppenheimer said she figured they would be safe as long as they didn't go in too deep.

"I probably wouldn't go surfing or snorkeling in a wet suit, looking like a seal," she said as she spun the board in shallow water.

Martin's oldest son, Jeff, 41, said at a news conference that no one in the family ever imagined a shark attack in Solana Beach.

"People would ask us about sharks and we would laugh," he said. The attack happened despite "staggering odds," he said, and he had no qualms about going surfing Saturday at the same beach where his father died.

The San Diego County medical examiner's office said David Martin, a 66-year-old retired veterinarian, bled to death after being bitten across both legs by the shark as he swam with nine fellow triathletes about 150 yards offshore. Witnesses said he was lifted out of the water by the creature, which retreated after a single bite.

Jeff Martin told said his father loved night diving and other activities in the sea.

David Martin's five adult children, joined by other relatives and friends, left bright yellow sunflowers next to a makeshift memorial of bouquets and cards tucked into a railing at the top of a bluff overlooking the sea.

Great whites are rare along the Southern California coast, though females sometimes come south from their usual territory in the cooler water of the central and northern coast to pup.

Martin is the first shark fatality in San Diego County since 1994, when a woman's body was found with bites off Ocean Beach, near downtown San Diego. Prior to that, the last shark fatality in the area was in 1959, when a diver was bitten near La Jolla, about 10 miles south of Solana Beach.

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