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Shark Encounters Rattle Nerves in Morro Bay and La Jolla

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Two separate shark encounters in waters off the California coast Saturday left a surfer with a visibly damaged surfboard in Morro Bay and prompted the partial closure of a beach in San Diego County.

San Diego lifeguards ordered a stretch of beach in La Jolla closed Saturday afternoon after a confirmed sighting of an 8- to 10-foot hammerhead shark. (Credit: San Diego Fire-Rescue Department)

San Diego lifeguards ordered a stretch of beach in La Jolla closed Saturday afternoon after a confirmed sighting of an 8- to 10-foot hammerhead shark. (Credit: San Diego Fire-Rescue Department)

The latter incident took place about 1 p.m. near La Jolla Shores, where lifeguards received a report of an 8- to 10-foot hammerhead shark "showing aggressive behavior" toward a group of swimmers and kayakers, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said in a news release.

One of the kayakers recorded video of the sighting, which shows the hammerhead circling two of the small boats before following them all the way to the beach, the statement said. Witnesses said the shark was last seen outside the surf line at the foot of Avenida De La Playa.

No injuries were reported.

After reviewing the video, lifeguards warned people to get out of the water and closed the beach between La Jolla Cove and Scripps Pier, the Fire-Rescue Department said.

Earlier, about 315 miles to the north, Elinor Dempsey was surfing near several other people at Morro Strand State Beach when a 6-foot juvenile great white shark bit off a sizable chunk of her surfboard, KEYT reported.

The surfboard Los Osos resident Elinor Dempsey was on when a shark bit a chunk out of it. Surfer Jay Thompson measures the bite mark. (Credit: Patrick S. Pemberton/The San Luis Obispo Tribune)

The surfboard Los Osos resident Elinor Dempsey was on when a shark bit a chunk out of it. Surfer Jay Thompson measures the bite mark. (Credit: Patrick S. Pemberton/The San Luis Obispo Tribune)

"It was under me, it surfaced, it took the board and I was out of there," the uninjured Dempsey told the TV station. "I never looked back."

She described the encounter as "pretty wild" and "really surreal, like it didn't really happen."

She speculated that perhaps the shark targeted her instead of others due to the red color of her surfboard, which was missing a 14-by-8-inch section after the incident.

Dempsey said she was now a survivor of cancer and a shark attack. Unenthusiastic about keeping the damaged surfboard as a memento, she joked that she might "sell it to the highest bidder."

Correction: Elinor Dempsey's first name was misspelled in an earlier version of this report. The article has been updated.

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