Swimmer vanishes after shark attack off popular beach, California rescuers say

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A swimmer remains missing following reports of a shark attack off a popular California beach, U.S. Coast Guard officials told news outlets.

A shark bit a man swimming off Point Reyes National Seashore at 10:40 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, and pulled him under, officials told KNTV.

Other swimmers at Wildcat Beach at the southern edge of Point Reyes reported seeing “a large pool of blood in the water,“ KPIX reported. Three men were swimming 25 to 50 yards offshore at the time.

A search for the missing swimmer continues, Point Reyes National Seashore officials said in a post on Twitter, now rebranded as X.

The U.S. Coast Guard, firefighters and National Park Service rangers are conducting the search.

The missing man is believed to be in his 50s, KPIX reported.

“This is not your typical attack that we’ve heard of. It does create some complications when you can’t find someone in the water,” Ben Ghisletta, senior fire captain with the Marin County Fire Department, told KGO.

Point Reyes National Seashore is about 40 miles northwest of San Francisco.

What to know about shark attacks

Shark attacks are “extremely rare,” according to John Carlson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“You have a better chance of getting in a car accident and being injured on your way to the beach than you do actually when you get to the beach and going swimming,” he said in a video posted to NOAA’s website.

In 2022, the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File investigated 108 shark-human interactions worldwide. Of those interactions, 57 were unprovoked shark bites, and there were nine “shark-related fatalities.”

If you see a shark in the water, however, don’t panic, Richard Peirce, former chair of the Shark Trust and Shark Conservation Society, told CNN.

“Don’t start splashing around – you’re just going to excite, incite and encourage the shark’s interest,” he told the news outlet.

Instead, maintain eye contact with the shark and read its body language. If the shark appears to be in “attack mode,” you should make yourself as large as possible, CNN reported. If it seems to just be swimming by, try to stay small.

If the shark attacks, experts told CNN you shouldn’t play dead.

“You must try and keep the animal in sight and very slowly and gently try and swim backwards and get into shallow water,” Peirce told CNN. “Again, you’ve got to be careful – large sharks can attack in very shallow depths.”

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