‘I Had to Hit Him Over 20 Times’: Kayaker Fends Off Aggressive Hammerhead Shark Near Santa Barbara Coast

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A kayaker fought off an aggressive hammerhead shark in an encounter near the Santa Barbara coast that ended with the man making a bee-line back to shore, according to KTLA sister station KSWB.

Mark McCracken was fishing a half-mile off Gaviota State Beach on Saturday when the shark started circling him, the television station reported.

He captured the encounter on a GoPro camera mounted to his head and posted to the footage on Instagram.

"I was trolling for bonito yesterday when out of nowhere this tweaked out hammerhead started ramming and biting my kayak," McCracken wrote on Instagram.

He attempted to keep the hammerhead from hitting his kayak with his oar, but the shark continued to circle the small boat for another 15 minutes.

"I had to hit him over 20 times before he finally gave me some space," he wrote.

McCracken then paddled quickly to shore, but said the shark continued to "stalk" him.

"Even after I was on shore, he paced back and forth in about 3 feet of water like he was just waiting for me to come back out. Pretty bizarre and crazy experience to say the least," he wrote.

McCracken's encounter is just the latest in a string of hammerhead shark sightings along the Southern California coastline.

Such sightings are rare, as hammerhead sharks are normally not observed that close to shore, Lt. Andy Lerum of San Diego Lifeguards told KSWB.

However, the potentially record-breaking El Niño is attracting hammerheads, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"You've got a whole tropical food chain that's moved into our neighborhood," Chris Lowe, a marine biology professor at Cal State Long Beach, explained to the Times. "That warm water is bringing that food up here, and that food is being followed by its predators. That's how we get that subtropical food web that we normally don't have showing up here."

He added that hammerhead sharks are known to frequent Southern California waters in El Niño years.


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